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Articles: Student Services

Workforce development has long been a bastion of the community college environment. But with student-loan debt topping $1 trillion and enrollments falling, many four-year colleges and universities are devoting more attention to the area, in part as a way to boost their own relevance within a challenging global economy.

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The Loyola platform is a one-stop shop for tracking and spending points.

“Engage with the career center” sounds a bit like “eat your vegetables” to a college student. Students know they should access career planning resources, but other options from the campus activities buffet beckon.

In surveys, graduating students from Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management raved about the faculty and facility, but not the career center, says Dean Karyl Leggio.

Spencer Parker had a plan: Take his high school volleyball stardom to college, spend a couple of years at a smaller school to develop his academic and athletic skills, then move on to a larger setting. Become a volleyball star on a bigger stage. But the nagging desire to play college football, the lingering effect of a successful season as high school quarterback, was relentless.

In fall 2012, Sage launched the Achieve Degree program, an online degree designed for students on the autism spectrum or with other special needs, who generally work from home or their local library.

In today’s competitive higher education market, colleges and universities must prove the value of the degrees they bestow to graduates each year. Traditional measures, such as graduation rates, grade point averages, and cohort default rates, have become only a few of the ways colleges and universities are evaluated. Students and their parents want to be assured that their investment in a college education will pay off in the form of a self-sustaining and financially-secure career path.

Does autism run in families? Can children with autism grow up to live independently? These questions were part of a survey that tested University of California, Riverside faculty and students’ knowledge of autism spectrum disorder to help guide the support of these students through their college years. More than 1,000 people were quizzed on the prevalence, causes and signs of ASD in the largest known higher ed autism awareness survey.

With so many students depending on community college as their best—and sometimes only—option for higher education, it’s time for community colleges to get their fair share of education funds. While these schools enroll 53 percent of all undergraduate students at public institutions, they receive only about 25 percent of the federal funding available.

Merging departments and cross-training employees reduced the campus “run-around” and eased staff burden.

Delivering student services as important as tutoring, disability assistance, and advising is especially vital at LDS Business College, an open-enrollment school whose student body often faces hardships.

Yet the offices and departments that delivered those services were located all across campus, making it difficult to ensure that students made it to where they needed to go when they had multiple issues to be addressed.

Volunteer mentors assisting students academically is part of a three-pronged approach to helping at-risk students and boosting retention.

Not so long ago, students at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City whose semester grade-point averages fell below a certain level were placed on academic probation. But it did very little to get them the help they needed.

Most college students have a need for academic or financial aid counseling at some point during their college career, whether to get help with course selection or to sort through GI Bill paperwork. Any of the 600 students at Wayland Baptist University’s Phoenix campus in need of this help used to have to spend a fair amount of time just setting up such a meeting.

Because today’s bachelor’s degree no longer conveys sufficient information about the skills graduating seniors possess, there is a market failure that affects employers, students, and colleges. Too many deserving students do not get an interview with potential employers because employers don’t have the appropriate data to find the prospects they need.

Community colleges have a long tradition of articulation agreements with four-year institutions, ensuring that those who begin at a two-year school can seamlessly transfer. As the college trajectory becomes less standard­—even for students with bachelor-sized goals who begin at the community college level—institutional leaders are creating or adding the reverse transfer option to articulation agreements.

As more higher ed institutions develop reverse-transfer agreements, these partnerships “offer great opportunities for the institutions to share data” for mutual benefits, says Dennis Day, vice president for student success and engagement at Johnson County Community College in Kansas.

Here are two ways such collaborative information sharing can benefit both two-year and four-year institutions, as well as students:

Like most state universities in Michigan, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has entered into several reverse-transfer agreements with community colleges in recent years. In determining whether to activate the reverse-transfer process for a particular student, UM-Dearborn examines several criteria, says Ken Kettenbeil, vice chancellor for external relations. Here’s his checklist of items to consider: