Community Colleges

FAFSA and the Community College

Communicating the importance of applying for federal student aid

With college costs still top of mind for most families, financial aid is more important than ever. Community college leaders are especially challenged to communicate the importance of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to their student body, which appears to be less likely to apply for federal aid. According to the report "FAFSA Completion Rates by Level and Control of Institution," 58 percent of Pell-eligible community college students applied for aid, compared to 77 percent of four-year students in the 2007-08 academic year.

Put a Ring on It

Engaging students to set the foundation for success

Engaged students are successful students. That is a well known fact on college campuses. The trick is encouraging that engagement, particularly for community college leaders. "About 80 percent of our students are low income," says Stephen Head, president of Lone Star College-North Harris (Texas). "Many of them are also the first in their family to attend college."

Developing Professionals

When faculty excel, so does the community college

Campus excellence begins with the faculty. It's not just about hiring high-quality professors, but also about maintaining their skills through professional development programs. "I tell our students hiring is job one, two, and three," says John Roueche, director of the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at The University of Texas at Austin, a graduate program for community college administrators. "But then you have to do something with them to continue to help them grow and keep them committed to the institution."

Making an International Community

International students and study abroad help globalize community college campuses

Preparing students to work in a global economy is no small feat, but it is a skill employers are requesting. According to "Raising the Bar," a 2009 survey released by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, 67 percent of employers believe colleges should place an emphasis on providing students "the ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions," and 57 percent want students to have a better understanding of cultural diversity.

Good Beginnings

New initiatives bolster the community college mission.

The national spotlight that shone on community colleges all year got a little brighter in the last quarter as new programs were announced and a White House Summit on Community Colleges was held.

“[Community colleges] are the unsung heroes of America’s education system,” said President Obama at the start of the October 5 summit. The event is a sign that his administration is working to change that. It brought together government representatives and community college leaders from around the country to discuss the sector’s challenges.

Programs for ELL

Integrating immigrants into the community

Election years always tend to revive the debate surrounding immigration policy. What is often forgotten is that many people with a foreign accent arrived here through proper channels. Community colleges are working to help integrate them in their new homes.

"Everyone has heard of the immigrant doctor who is driving a taxi," says Teresita Wisell, associate dean of the Gateway Center at Westchester Community College (N.Y.). "We want to help them navigate the process to help them use their education."

Overcoming the Community College Parking Crunch

A multipronged approach to a common issue

"One of the primary challenges facing any community college is that there are many more students than parking spaces," says Eric Glohr, director of auxiliary services for Lansing Community College (Mich.) And while this has long been a fact of life for administrators, that challenge has grown significantly in recent years. Rising education costs have led many students to enroll in community colleges. In fact, a lot of these institutions are reporting double-digit increases in enrollment.

University Centers?

Partnerships for greater degree completion opportunities

Not having articulation agreements isn't the only thing holding students back when transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution. Most of these students still have the life issues that prompted them to attend a community college initially. An education model that can help them overcome these challenges is a university center, which combines the degree completion opportunities of four-year schools with the local convenience of a community college campus. "Busy adults can't travel and not everyone can learn online," notes Cary Israel, president of Collin College (Texas).

Virtual Capacity

Using distance learning to manage surging enrollment

Although there are glimmers the recession could be ending, the unemployment rate is expected to stay high for some time to come. College enrollments will probably keep pace, especially at community colleges, where older adults looking to brush up their job skills are joined by traditional students looking to avoid high tuition for a few years.

Funding for Community Colleges

Speculating on the American Graduation Initiative

The Indiana Center for Applied Technology, focuses on manufacturing and provides career services through a state WorkOne office.

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