Wednesday Weekly Reader: Community Colleges and more

Recent news from the college search / admissions / finance front.

1.  Since many seniors, including Mod Squad Pete, are in the middle of writing applications right now, here’s timely information from the Unigo Expert Network, via US News & World Report, on red flags seen in applications.

Regarding essays, if the quality of one far exceeds what might be expected from a candidate, the admissions office will access an applicant’s SAT essay (which is readily available online) for comparison purposes. If the essay really appears “DDI” (“Daddy did it”), the admissions office might request from a student a graded paper from a recent English or history class.

2.  An exceptional blogger, Dean Dad, who blogs under Confessions of a Community College Dean at Inside Higher Ed, wrote about how some four-year colleges are offering prospective students a choice between acceptance and rejection: read about the Purgatory of one year at a nearby community college. With an acceptable GPA at the end of the year, the student is automatically admitted. A couple of attractive points to this option:  the prospective student gets to live on campus at the four-year college and participate in campus activities, except NCAA sports.

This kind of thing has happened informally for years. Students who more or less coasted through high school have a hard time convincing their parents to shell out big money to go away to college, so they strike a deal: spend a year at the cc, and if you show you’re serious by doing well there, then transfer. What’s new in this program is that the four-year college is initiating it, and blessing it with both its imprimateur and an explicit promise of admission.

3.  See The College Puzzle blog for a study abstract on how well students who are unprepared for college work at the community college make the transition to being prepared for transfer to a four-year college. Our higher-ed system increasingly looks to community colleges to provide an effective alternative track to college. The community colleges’ ability to help move unprepared students toward better outcomes with college-level work is limited.

Conclusion: Community colleges can serve as a democratizing force in higher education; however, their ability to overcome inadequate academic preparation with which some students enter higher education is limited. Improving academic preparation in K–12 is thus a crucial component of enhancing transfer.

4.  Our local community college, Piedmont Virginia Community College, was featured recently in Money magazine. The September issue offered How I Saved $50,000 in College Costs. That link takes you to the third student featured, Ebonee Parrish, who studied at PVCC and transferred to the University of Virginia. With her GPA and course of study, the UVA costs are covered by grants, bringing her savings to $95,000. As the PVCC representative noted in a comment,

PVCC was mentioned in the article since community colleges are a viable way to begin a bachelor’s degree. Many PVCC students transfer to U.Va., Va. Tech, James Madison University, VCU, William and Mary, and other institutions to complete their four-year degree.

In Virginia, and in some other states, students attaining a certain GPA at the community college earn an automatic transfer acceptance into the state universities. UVA provides a document about the guaranteed transfer from VA community colleges here. I looked it up because I couldn’t recall the required GPA (it’s 3.4 with no grades below a C and the English 111 and 112 must be a B or better). One of the most financial-savvy and only [I think?] guaranteed way for a VA student to get a top-25 college education. The diploma doesn’t say “transfer from CC”.

What have you been reading? Let me know in comments, below.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Wednesday Weekly Reader: Community Colleges and more

  1. Thank you for the link! Great blog and informative article here! I do believe a community college can be a good place for students to start — provided the students set goals, know when to ask for help, practice good study habits, and overall, don’t view the experience as “college lite.” 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, diycollegeprep. I believe more and more each day that the success or ROI on any college student’s experience — whether it’s community college, private liberal arts, or big state u — depends on the effort and engagement of that individual student. A self-motivated student can listen, learn and grow on just about any campus. (And the reverse is true: anyone can use class time to check Facebook at $125 – $2000 per credit hour!)

  2. I agree — self-motivation is key anywhere, along with some level of maturity and sense of purpose. I don’t understand the texting-and-Facebooking-during-class phenomenon myself; I’ve not allowed it in my own classes (though some students try to text under the table), but I’d think it would be evident, without such a policy, that such pursuits distract and detract from learning. I wonder if some students are used to doing these things in high school (?).
    Well, thanks again and good luck on your continued college journey!

  3. Pingback: Grading Financial Aid Award Letters | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  4. Pingback: Say there, Community Colleges: How’s your graduation rate faring? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  5. Pingback: How to look at the cost of college… in Virginia and 49 other states. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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