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Community College Students Face a Very Long Road to Graduation

October 5, 2014View for printing

The majority of community college students come from low-income families, and many arrive at school, as he did, with competing obligations (29 percent of community college students in the United States are parents), as well as the need for extensive remediation. The widely held impression that community colleges are essentially vocational is inaccurate. Data released by the American Association of Community Colleges in September indicated that most of the associate degrees awarded in 2012 were given in the liberal arts and sciences, outnumbering those for nursing, say, or marketing.

In recent years, mounting concerns about inequality have fixated on the need for greater economic diversity at elite colleges, but the interest has tended to obscure the fact that the vast majority of high school students -- including the wealthiest -- will never go to Stanford or the University of Chicago or Yale. Even if each of U.S. News and World Report's 25 top-ranked universities committed to turning over all of its spots to poor students, the effort would serve fewer than 218,000 of them. Community colleges have 7.7 million students enrolled, 45 percent of all undergraduates in the country.


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Many thanks to John Cech for sharing this. John added:

"I usually start most Sunday mornings reading the New York Times. If you have a few minutes, check out the following article in the NYT (worth the read of you have a few minutes)- it references LaGuardia Community College and the work President Gail Mellow is doing at her college of 50,000 students. Gail is one of the community college president 'rock stars' in the USA. I know her and brought her to City College at MSUB when I was dean a couple of times. The story highlights the key choke points for why students in community colleges have a difficult time graduating: 1) completion of college math (getting out of the dev ed basement); and 2) colleges using college algebra as the standard college math. This story re-affirmed for me the Montana University System is on the right track with our current initiatives involving math pathways, developmental education reform, EdReady** roll out, and dual credit expansion.

**EdReady is a math and English remediation system for anyone considering attending college in the United States. The purpose of EdReady is to help prepare students to avoid remedial instruction and begin their college studies by giving them the resources they need to achieve adequate scores on commonly used placement exams, such as AccuPlacer, Compass, and ACT."

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