community college

community college

Students Are Taking Remedial Classes They Do Not Need

According to new studies from the Teachers College at Columbia University, many community colleges are placing students in remedial classes when the students do not actually need them. The schools are relying on the students’ scores on standardized tests, but the studies show that they would be better able to place students in the appropriate classes if they relied on the students’ high school GPAs instead.

Most students would not like to take remedial classes if they do not have to, and the reason why this is makes a lot of sense. Remedial classes are a waste of money and time if students do not actually need them because they do not receive any credit for these classes. In fact, more than 75 percent of students who start out taking remedial classes in college do not earn a degree, and this could be simply because they get burned out taking remedial classes.

“We hear a lot about the high rates of failure in college-level classes at community colleges,” said Judith Scott-Clayton, a professor at the Teachers College and the author of one of the studies. “Those are very visible. What’s harder to see are the students who could have done well at college level but never got the chance because of these placement tests.”

The placement tests that Scott-Clayton is referring to are most commonly the College Board’s Accuplacer and the ACT’s Compass. These tests have been used at many schools since the 1980s to determine what classes students should be placed in, based on their scores on the tests. Many students are told not to prepare for the tests because they are only used for placement, but this can lead to students  being placed in classes that are not the appropriate level for them. According to the two new studies from Columbia University, schools would do well to rely less on these tests and more on the students’ high school GPAs as an indicator of the students’ abilities.

The trend is being seen in schools across the country.

“I haven’t seen the studies, but what I do know is that when I talk with leaders of community colleges, a lot of them have issues with the diagnostic tests and sense that far too many students are being put in developmental, remedial education, especially in math,” said Walter Bumphus, president of the American Association of Community Colleges. “Almost every one of them has some plan to change that.”

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Should Students Go to Community Colleges to Get Jobs?

rows of students in a lecture hallThere are several problems with the American higher education system. For example, a higher education is expensive and many students graduate owing thousands of dollars in debt. Also, some colleges are very selective and students cannot go to these schools, even if they want to. However, when Michael Bettersworth, an associate vice chancellor at the Texas State Technical College System, was asked what the biggest problem was, he pointed out a problem that does not usually come to mind.

“Houston, we have a problem, and it’s not that too few people are going to college,” he said. “It’s that too many people are getting degrees with limited value in the job market.”

Oh, yeah, that’s a problem that definitely had not popped to the front of my mind. However, when you think about it, it does make sense. There are many people who choose to study a subject that does not directly prepare them for a job. For example, I have a friend who studied philosophy at a very prestigious school. After graduation, he could not find a job and ended up working as a restaurant manager.

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Harper College Offers Class on How to be Funny

If laughter is truly the best medicine, then you should be able to earn a doctorate degree on how to be funny. However, Harper College, in Palatine, Ill., will settle for a single community college course.

The two-part class, named “From Humor to Health: Comedy and Healthy Living”, not only focuses on how to be funny, but the health benefits of laughter.

Scott Cashman, the college’s continuing education manager, said that studies show creativity, memory, and problem-solving skills improves with a developed sense of humor.

“That’s the whole point of bringing together laughter and humor with a health perspective,” he said.

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Larry Crowne Offers a Different View of Higher Education

It’s a common story that is becoming more and more common these days: a hardworking man who has been loyal to his place of employment loses his job due to budget cuts. Desperate to improve his station in life, the man decides to pursue a higher education in hopes that this will allow him to find another job and maybe even improve his overall quality of life. Since this is somewhat of a new trend in today’s workforce and education frontiers, it only makes sense that Tom Hanks‘ and Julia Roberts‘ new movie, Larry Crowne, would address this subject.

In Larry Crowne, Hanks portrays the title character, a hardworking man who loses his job at a Wal-Mart-like store. After sitting around his home for a few days, he decides to enroll in an economic and pubic speaking course at his local community college. Roberts plays one of Larry’s teachers, Mercedes Tianot. However, Mercedes dislikes being a teacher and it is quite obvious that she has other things she would rather do than teach a public speaking course, as evidenced by her temporary thrill when she thinks her class only has nine students and, therefore, does not meet the school’s enrollment requirements. As the movie progresses, Larry must learn to overcome his age difference from the other students. It is the relationships that form between Larry, Mercedes, and the other students that keeps this movie interesting.

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The Best Community Colleges in the U.S.

community-collegeWhile much attention is paid to the Forbes and U.S. News college rankings each year, the schools represented by these lists are predominately expensive, private institutions that only serve the most elite students, and in many cases, the most wealthy. Such rankings can do little to help the majority of Americans, who are no less deserving of an excellent higher education.

Washington Monthly undertakes a different kind of college ranking: community colleges. Nearly half of all American students begin their path to higher education at two-year institutions. The magazine argues that expense and selectivity are not the most important factors in providing a meaningful college education.

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Obama Hosts first ever White House Community College Summit

community-college-summitOn Tuesday, October 5th, President Obama and Dr. Jill Biden kicked off the first ever White House Community College Summit. Obama previously announced that he wants to make community colleges a top educational priority, as part of his effort to encourage more Americans to complete their college degrees.

Dr. Jill Biden is the chair of the event, which emphasized how lower cost colleges can develop America’s workforce and strengthen the economy. “These are places where young people can continue their education without taking on a lot of debt,” the President said. “These are places were people can gain new skills to move up in their careers. These are places where anyone with a desire to learn and to grow can take a chance on a brighter future for themselves whether that’s a single mom or a returning soldier, or an aspiring entrepreneur.”

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Low Graduation Rates for Community College Students Has Many Calling for Reform

graduation ratesOnly 25 percent of community college students earn degrees within six years. This statistic is not only shocking, it’s bad news for our recovering economy. Why are community college students not succeeding? A large part of the problem lies within developmental education. A conference was held at the Teachers College of Columbia University to delve deeper into this subject.

Developmental education is the term used for sub-college level courses. Remedial course is another phrase used to describe these classes. Remedial courses include classes that teach basic reading and math, skills students should have learned long ago. These courses provide students with the skills needed to succeed in their college-level coursework and are often required for new students who do not score high enough on placement tests.  Read the rest of this entry »

Tips to Ensure You Graduate Early

graduationWhen we think of a bachelor’s degree, we think of a four-year degree, right? It doesn’t have to be that way. If you work hard enough, you can graduate a semester early, or maybe even a year early. If you make a plan, and follow these tips, you’ll be in a cap and gown before you know it:

Take summer courses: Save some of your extracurricular classes for the summer so you get them out of the way, but won’t get bogged down with lots of homework. Consider taking something fun like yoga or bowling. If you run out of extracurriculars, see if your college offers summer pre-sessions, so you won’t waste away your summer behind a desk.

Find a major and don’t change it: It’s usually the five-year seniors who can’t seem to pick a major. So, unless you’re planning on joining them, have your major set in stone by your sophomore year. If you’re deciding between a few, pick the major that will allow you to have the most career options. Remember that you will have plenty of time after you graduate to pick another degree if need be. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Avoid Debt to Pay for College

credit-cardsNo one ever said college wouldn’t be expensive. In fact, along with all other costs, college expenses are on the rise. Whether you decide to attend a community college for completion of your core classes, or spend all four years at a university, money is going to be a factor. Many students stress about the costs involved, while some students skip college all together because they can’t afford it.

There are a lot of resources to help you pay for college, however, including scholarships, grants, student loans and work study programs. Scholarships and grants are options that don’t have to be paid back while student loans must be repaid, sometimes along with interest, depending on the type of loan. Federal student loans, grants and work study eligibility are determined through filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Student loans are very popular among college students, but if you are looking to stay out of debt while in college, loans should be avoided.

Some of the best ways to graduate from college without any accumulated debt appear below. Utilizing some or all of these pointers will help you get out of school with no debt: Read the rest of this entry »

Community Colleges Train the Green-Technology Managers of the Future

green-degrees-community-collegesGreen energy and eco-friendly jobs are an area that’s looking up in this tough economy. Not only will this growing sector need researchers and engineers, it will also need informed business managers that understand the needs of the market. Educational institutes, particularly community colleges, are seeking to fill this void by creating training programs specifically to create environmental management professionals.

Lane Community College in Oregon already offers two-year programs in renewable energy, water conservation and energy management. Lane is a forerunner in eco-managment, and its programs are serving as models for ten other community colleges nation-wide. Graduates of the program are finding work on a wide range of projects. “They are working for utilities, on engineering jobs, for school districts, cities and the military,” said Robert Ebbage, director of energy programs the college. Read the rest of this entry »


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