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Community Colleges

Happy trails: Community members who have walked, jogged or biked the trails that crisscross the campus of Brookhaven College in Texas have given back to the institution through donations, even when they have no other ties to the school.

Supporting local economic and civic projects is a central part of the mission for community colleges that rely on voter approval for funding.

In Kansas, for example, voters elect the six members of their community college’s board of trustees, which levies taxes to pay for the school’s operating expenses. Residents, however, can challenge the board’s decisions and force a referendum on any tax increase.

Two researchers says they have debunked the theory that community college students who transfer to universities graduate at lower rate. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Dozens of reports written over the last four decades have created the generally accepted theory that community college students who transfer to universities graduate at lower rate than do students who start out at four-year institutions.

So when David Monaghan and Paul Attewell, researchers at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, began to analyze those studies to uncover when and why it was happening, they got a surprise: the theory, they determined, is actually a myth.

When life gets in the way, community college students often “stop out,” meaning they put their education on hold with the intention to return and complete a degree. But the more breaks a community college student takes, the less likely he or she is to ever graduate, according to a Florida State University study.

Shirley Reed is the founding president of South Texas College.

As the founding president of South Texas College, Shirley Reed has had her share of challenges in an area of high poverty with many families, recently immigrated from Mexico, who might only dream of sending a child to college.

Since 1993, Reed and STC have made tremendous inroads on changing that.“The students I see are all motivated, hungry for a better life. More than 70 percent of our students are the first in their families to attend college, meaning they don’t know exactly how to attend college at first, but they know it’s the path to a better future,” she says.

Students who aren’t accepted to the University of South Carolina main campus this spring may still receive some good news with their rejection letters.

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.

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:

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:

Subordinated and marginalized. That’s how faculty of color at community colleges are feeling.

By the time our UB audience reads this, the movie “Captain Phillips,” based on a true story, will be hitting the Hollywood box office. After keeping the crew of his ship safe, Phillips was held hostage on a lifeboat by Somali pirates. In interviews since, the captain reported not knowing that the ship anchored on his horizon carried US Navy SEALs—a team that would ultimately rescue him.

Since their inception after WWII, the U.S. Navy SEALs have intelligently vanquished US enemies.

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