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Articles: Student Services

a mouse with the wire attached to a credit card

When it comes to e-commerce, anything retail can do, college campuses can do, too—and probably better, experts say. That explains in large part why the lone bookstore URLs many colleges and universities began with have blossomed into hundreds of online money opportunities ranging from student fees to concert and athletic tickets, from parking permits to alumni donations.

A Community College Research Center study found that, at community and technical colleges in Washington state, students enrolled in online courses didn’t fare as well as those enrolled in face-to-face or hybrid courses. But better student preparation, faculty development, online support services, and other resources can close the gap. Here is what a few community colleges have done to implement those practices and help students be successful in online courses.

coach bus

As winter progresses, harsh weather conditions  make it even more critical for colleges and universities to feel confident that they are transporting students to and from university-related activities as safely as possible. This means insisting that passenger trip organizers identify and select the safest bus companies in the industry to transport their students.

I am a bit perplexed. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get many listeners on the subject of the need for liberal arts colleges to offer a minor in business and entrepreneurship. Over the past month, I wrote to the presidents at four of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. about the possibility of this idea. One kindly responded right away, acknowledging that it may be worthwhile, but due to financial issues, no new programs were being introduced.

A cell phone being waved in front of a door for entry

Given the pervasive use of mobile devices, could handheld technology replace campus card programs altogether? After all, aiming a device at a residence hall keypad, or paying for vending snacks by waving a cell phone at the machine, are already possible, as is automated check-in at events, purchases at tech-savvy retailers, and connection to banking services.

With all that functionality, it just makes sense to consider a switch, believes Laura Ploughe, director of business applications and fiscal control in the university business services department at Arizona State University.

Students paying with a campus card

Campus cards have come a long way since their initial uses related to door access and meal plan tracking. Increasingly, colleges and universities are turning campus cards into function-packed systems, with subsequent benefits related to efficiency, revenue generation, and off-campus partnerships. Here are 10 best practices for getting the most out of your campus card program.

In September, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor announced $500 million in grants for community colleges to improve job training and workforce development programs as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative.

Thirty-two grantees were announced in this round, ranging from individual institutions to consortia that bring together colleges statewide or across state lines.

Some highlights:

Veterans returning to civilian life will find it easier to get education and employment with a new “memorandum of understanding” between California Community Colleges (CCC) and the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet).

It’s a simple idea for community colleges that sounds almost archaic: Check the help wanted ads and shape programs around available jobs. In practice, the idea involves new, sophisticated “spidering” and artificial intelligence technologies that can aggregate and analyze online job ads, providing a comprehensive source of information. A Jobs for the Future report published this fall explores the options and how the analysis is being done by a handful of colleges and states.

Community colleges have long been seen as a good place for students to brush up on their skills before tackling college-level course work. The state legislatures in Ohio and Tennessee have recently decided to have public four-year institutions get out of the developmental ed game as much as possible, and leave those classes to the experts.

Leaders from 16 community colleges around the country gathered at the White House in September to participate in a roundtable discussion on the role community colleges play in America. The discussion was part of the Obama administration’s Champions of Change program, a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping to meet the many challenges of the 21st century. Education Gateways recently spoke to four of the Champions of Change honorees about the challenges and opportunities they face as presidents of their institutions.

At one time, each of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges ran its own financial aid office by its own rules. Ten years later, the Connecticut Community College System has doubled the number of students. Now all 12 colleges use FAFSA alone to determine eligibility. All use the same “satisfactory academic progress” requirement for students who receive aid and those who don’t. Simplifying eligibility rules and centralizing some functions freed financial aid staffers to focus on helping students instead of pushing paper, Marc Herzog, the former chancellor, told the College Board.

Financial aid information is easy to find at Pierce College.

Working one’s way through college is the norm for community college students: 85 percent work part- or full-time. With an average tuition bill of $2,713 a year, only 13 percent turn to student loans.

But long work hours have a high cost, concludes a 2011 report by the College Board’s Advocacy & Policy Center. Only 21 percent of first-time, full-time community college students complete a degree or certificate in three years. The six-year completion or transfer rate is 31 percent. Part-timers, who make up 59 percent of enrollment, do even worse.

As we get ready to start the third year of our Models of Efficiency program, I want to take a moment to point with pride to the program’s success. Models of Efficiency is a national recognition program for those campus departments that have found ways to streamline operations, save money, and improve constituent satisfaction. That was the challenge we set forth when Models of Efficiency was first announced, and those solutions are just as important, if not more so, today.