I am a college success story. According to the findings of a recent Pell Report study, I should be recognized as someone who successfully transferred from a two-year community or technical college to a four-year college, eventually obtaining my bachelor’s degree.
But, my story took place some 25 years ago and much has changed in education since then. For starters, many more low income students are now taking college classes which means that quite a few will head off to community college for some advanced training. Some students will receive the technical training that they need while others will year to complete their education by transferring their credits to a four-year school.
Unfortunately, the transfer process isn’t always easy and the cost of finishing up college can be prohibitive. Moreover, many students languish in community college taking remedial courses making it difficult for them to receive an associates degree let alone move on to the next level.
The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education is a fifty-six page report that just may help junior college students successfully move on to four-year colleges and universities if educators, politicians and, of course, students heed its findings.
The report takes a close look at the success six Texas colleges have had with moving their students beyond their schools to institutions offering four year degrees. Laredo, Northeast Texas, and Trinity Valley Community Colleges; Southwest Texas Junior College; Tarrant County College-Southeast Campus; and Victoria College are the schools studied by Pell.
The Pell report discovered that the six colleges shared three important distinguishing features:
Clearly defined conduits to help prepare and enable students to enroll at four year schools; personal attention for all students including those considered to be at-risk (i.e., minorities and low income students); and in tune administrators and educators who are aware of the challenges facing some students who hail from different backgrounds.
A number of two-year schools also promote dual enrollment which allows students who are still in high school to take college level courses. Furthermore, the junior colleges also have strong relationships with four-year colleges, making it easier for students to have the required credits in order to complete a transfer.
Importantly, these same schools have removed barriers to higher education by reaching students while they are still young, making college staff more accessible to their needs, and creating clubs to encourage students along the way in addition to other necessary “hand holding” features.
So, why is this important? Well, it has a lot to do with helping students complete their education while also meeting President Obama’s goal to see an additional five million students complete their college education by 2020, which he believes will keep America competitive in a fast changing and challenging global economy.
If the Texas schools serve as a model, than Obama’s goal is within in reach. As someone who struggled to work his way through school, but without the challenges many students face today,
I’m all for making things easier for students who want to excel educationally.