Sunday, August 16, 2015
Wise and worldly readers, I know I’m biased on this one, so I’ll throw it open. Do you see the community college stigma fading? And is there some sort of reasonably objective measure of it to check?
National rankings can also play a role if you have some place where you produce students who learned something. Pass rates on nursing boards, for example, will get attention if they hit the magic 100% mark, or merely beat out "better" schools, because everyone knows they are a neutral measure.
PS - One of the more telling bits of data is how many adjuncts teach freshman and sophomore classes at your college and also at some nearby university. You don't want to do that in a venue that might anger a university partner, but many people don't know exactly what they are paying for!
Fiftieth-year celebrations can be an excellent time for fund-raising, but you have to start any capital campaigns about two years ahead of the anniversary.
As for the stigma, there still is some. I know of students who did not get into any of the top-ranked schools they applied to (despite good grades and test scores), who ended up doing internships rather than going to community college (though we have a good one with high transfer rates here).
As an engineering professor at an R1 public university, I've seen that people do check whether the transfer students are doing as well as students who come up through the university their first two years. Currently, some majors are doing as well with their transfer students as those entering as freshmen, and some are not. The push is to try to align the transfer entry requirements with the major-declaration requirements, so that students are not disadvantaged on either route, but have the same chance of completing the degree once admitted. In the major I'm undergrad director for, the graduation rates are about the same for transfer students and for students entering as freshman—the time-to-degree is too long for both.
The other thing that I think of as a cautionary tale is the experience of one very smart woman I knew who wanted to be an engineer but decided to go to CC for her first 2 years to save money (her parents bribed her with offer of a free car to do this). When it was finally time for her to apply, the programs in the area that she would have easily entered as a high school grad were impacted and closed to transers. She ended up majoring in accounting.
There is no stigma here but choosing a CC limited her chance to do what she wanted to do. I promise you that there were kids in the engineering school with lower GPAs than her that she could have run circles around academically. That is the kind of thing that would make me reluctant to let my kids go to CC unless they were really unsure about college and needed to test the waters. For those with a clear vision, I'd advise Ramen, walking everywhere, and the 4-year school.
I compare this to the college where they spend 60% of our tuition for classes 1/4 the size. Classes they can get into.
I'm sometimes successful at convincing them to turn down an offer to the school they want in a program they don't want. Surprisingly, Most of the time they thank me for my expertise and proceed to ignore my advice.
Conversations with these same students 2 months later when they are begging me for strategies to get into over-full classes are rather trying...