Tuesday, January 30, 2007

 

Yes, Virginia, CC Students Do Transfer

According to the Chronicle, the state (commonwealth?) of Virginia is considering a pretty comprehensive plan to encourage in-state high school grads to use community colleges as feeders to the four-year colleges.

The grant program, proposed by two leading lawmakers, would allow qualifying transfer students to pay the same tuition and fees at public four-year institutions that they paid at a community college. Each student who transfers to an in-state private college after graduating from a community college would initially receive a voucher worth about $2,150 a year.

The measure is part of a broader effort to encourage more students to start their college careers at two-year colleges, a shift that lawmakers estimate would help accommodate an expected 20-percent to 25-percent increase in college enrollment in the state over the next six years.

Obviously, the devil is in the details. That said, I like the overall idea.

Apparently, students have to graduate cc's with 3.0 or better GPA's. Their credits will carry over, and the students will be allowed to finish their four-year degrees at cc tuition rates.

This strikes me as a good idea on a number of levels.

All of that said, I foresee a few complications:

Those complications granted, though, I like it overall. Unlike, say, Wisconsin's plan to use higher ed as a sort of roach motel for its talented youth, this plan respects the ambitions of its target group. It offers an option, which the residents would be free to take or leave. And it makes the higher echelons of college seem like live options to the students for whom it might now seem out of reach. Good thinking, Virginia.


Comments:
Some of the best students I know when to CC's for the first two years. One of the smartest and most driven people I've met went to city college for his undergrad (very affordable). Got A's and than went to stanford for his MS. All in all saved a bunch of money.

One of the reasons I didn't want to go is the uncertainty of getting credits transfered. So bring it on.
 
North Carolina has a similar deal, except for the tuition piece. The flagships still fight it (bloated with self-importance!), but the smaller regionals in the system love it. They get great students who raise the bar for all. The CC students routinely outperform the native students in the jr year, whether they go to Chapel Hill or UNC-Pembroke.
 
Without question, an excellent idea; however, there are some issues to consider. I agree with Joe, some of the finest students I have encountered (and most dedicated profs as well) were found at the CC. That being said, the overall culture of the CC is another issue. Yes, they are in a smaller classroom, but who are they sitting next too? CC students tend to run to extremes: stunning and academically driven to hopeless and agressively apathetic. (This might be said for some profs as well.) What effect does this overall culture have on the driven ones? Will they feel like part of the larger 4-year univeristy when they arrive, or will they be overwhelmed? Have they been pushed hard enough in classes watered down for laggers at the CC to succeed at the university? True enough that the university has more and more remedial courses for students who would be better served at the CC, but are the CC grads fully prepared for dorm life, sports, larger classrooms, monsterous campuses, etc.? Despite the aforementioned "ya yas" being "out," and their proven ability to handle more ancillary responsibilties (jobs, kids, families, etc.), many are still 20-years-old. How exactly do we address intangibles beyond academics?
 
A fair number of Ontario students go to community college and then transfer into engineerign at university. It takes longer (the cc courses are not a complete match, being more practical) but they get a more rounded education, which is what they are after.

University of Toronto is sticky about tranfer credits, of course, but then U of T won't even accept tranfer credits between departments within itself, so that's not surprising.

(This is apparently a function of the self-perpetuating bureaucracy rather than the professors or senate. I've known professors to argue with the registrar that two credits are identical, indeed are taught in the same classroom, and lose because they had different course codes and thus 'must be' different courses.)
 
I applaude the efforts of the Virginia State Assembly. This legislation offers hope for some students who might not make it otherwise.

I am concerned that the legislation may create substantial pressure on instructors who will face a real dilemma. Students who must earn a 3.0 grade point to transfer will howl about each grade and the community colleges can expect a slew of student complaints about grades.

Perhaps earning a degree might be a better measure of a student's progress.
 
I think VA needs to have a well-defined articulation agreement. The transfercredit problem still exists, even with the tuition cut, as departments/professors have no financial incentive to accept CC credits, and every reason to try to reject them.

Without an agreement about transfeer credits, the students will lose time -- which is more important to them than a reduced tuition.
 
Hey Robert, how nice to see that such absurdities happen somewhere else as well!
 
I have the pleasure of working for the Virginia Community College System.

Related to this initiative, we have been actively and successfully pursuing guaranteed admission agreements with all the major universities and colleges in the state. See some of them here: http://www.vccs.edu/aboutvccs/pressrel.htm

We were able to do this in part because the major universities have been pursuing a degree of administrative independence from the state (e.g. http://www.vt.edu/restructuring/), and a condition of that independence was these agreements.

One of the key supporters for this initiative is a student organization, Virginia 21 (http://www.virginia21.org/). I doubt we would have made the progress we have without their involvement.
 
That's wonderful news!

Congratulations on pulling off what must have been a very difficult, but very rewarding, venture.
 
The California community college system already does some of this. There are articulation agreements between all the community colleges and all the state four-year colleges. A CC student who completes whatever it is that's required in the transfer agreement is guaranteed admission to the state four-year school.

I know several very bright homeschooled kids who are doing their first two years in California community colleges, and then planning to move to the University of California. In all these cases, the kids are from middle-income families (by California Bay Area standards) with several kids, and money is a big factor in their decisions. The kids will still have to pay for two years at UC, but that's a lot cheaper than four years at UC.

-- Cardinal Fang
 
Quick followup to Robert's comment. In many engineering fields, it's common for the curriculum to contain three stacked years of courses. By this I mean year 2 fall is the prereq course for year 2 spring, which is the prereq for year 3 fall, etc., all the way up to year 4 spring. The prereqs really do make sense, and the courses I have in mind are all within the specialized engineering department that isn't found (to my knowledge) at a CC. The implication (to me) is that for certain fields it will be necessary to recognize that the 2 CC years will be followed by 3 additional years at Flagship State. Perhaps this means yet another year of cost differences?
 
Pursuant to earlier comments, and maybe this has already been covered---
1) Students will need to have earned their AA with the specific GPA to qualify for the tuition rate.
2) This tuition rate, as it is being negotiated now will be for families within 150% of the median income (hopefully for each specific region as there is a marked cost of living difference between Blacksburg and Fairfax).
3) Individual cc's and 4 years colleges do have some good articulation agreements. For example, at our cc, we have one state school that there are very clear arrangements for acceptance when students complete a degree at our school and many of the cc credits transfer. Of course VA also has some pretty snotty schools that are less cooperative, and which I imagine will not like this proposal either.
4) I could be wrong but I believe that the 4 years institutions won't be looking at footing the bill. I thought the state is pitching in the money. Given the above criteria, it starts to look more like a combination need-based/merit-based scholarship plan- Create your AA at the cc with a 3.0 average with x family income and you keep your costs down.
 
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