Colleges focus on end game: Graduation

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2012 - 7:38 PM

Community colleges intensify efforts to keep students in school.

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yen7565Sep. 2, 1210:30 PM

Assuming a Pell Grant is awarded these life-challenged students for this course, the college receives $550 from Uncle Sam for each of the 1,450 kids who didn't learn to read in 12 years of public education. Failure is easy money.

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jeffportSep. 3, 12 5:35 AM

"When we tallied it up, we found that most of them were dropping out because of cars breaking down, daycare going south, jobs requiring more hours," Wow.. This is finally getting to schools??? Of course this is the reason!!!! But then again, allot of students maybe should not be in college. College is not for everybody people. Oh FYI, colleges should have always looked for a 100% graduations rate for all it's students.

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bdaniel367Sep. 3, 12 7:19 AM

Having taught in both the K-12 and the community college MNSCU system, I can tell you, Yen, that they don't leave high school not knowing how to read. They leave not being readers. Because so many students don't read on their own, they begin to lose their ability to read critically. With the focus being on passing the MCA test, many students have the love of reading sucked out of them. They don't read at all outside of class, and their practice of the skill of reading leads to their inability to read at a college level. Tack on the fact that many of these students are coming back to school after years away from the classroom, and there are reading deficits. So your slap in the face of educators is not warranted.

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fromupnortSep. 3, 12 7:19 AM

Thank you Minnesota for your Community Colleges. They offer tremendous value and a way to better one's life. I know a lot of people who have two year degrees, diplomas and certificates from them and using them to make a living. Further, an Associate Degree will typically get you into a state four-year college for a practical degree. Go ahead and spend $15,000 to $35,000 on tuition at a more prestigious school if you have it. If you don't have the money, its like buying a Caddy (with longhorns on the hood) on payments...all hat and no cattle.

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yen7565Sep. 3, 12 9:36 AM

Maybe we can get some adults to add Ms. Crea's mantra to the end of their problematic statements? "John Doe did not pass my class because I believe he didn't read enough in high school and I am responsible for having a discussion with him as to how he can do more to earn a passing grade." If this is a known issue that will not be addressed by each educator, then why accept Pell Grant money?

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thepointSep. 3, 12 9:41 AM

It's tough when reality rears its ugly head and reveals the difficulty of your own circumstances. Completing school as a single parent with a child or maybe two; having made no more than $10 an hours, etc., is not just tough, it is almost impossible. We all know the statistics about single parenthood, or no high school diploma; maybe a criminal record, etc., as these are many of the students who are "back" to the community colleges seeking to change their circumstances. I think the colleges do terrific work, but miss the mark with folks for whom largely academic coursework is not going to take root or pay off. Generalizations not intended, but here is an example of the individual who probably should not be taking a run at a liberal arts foundation degree program, something that does not have a JOB likley at the end of its course of study: 30 years old; third attempt taking college courses...with the oft heard excuse of "I was just not ready before;" GED from high school; no strong family of origin relationships; one or two children; no spouse in the picture; government aid recipient now or at some point. Trust this advice. A two-year liberal arts degree is not a good choice. Something like an A.S. in Women's Studies is not going to get this student out of poverty. Setting one's sights on all transfer courses so that he/she can attempt a bachelor's degree, given the remote chance of achieving it, is also bad advice to the majority of students with elements of the backgrounds I described. This student needs honest "rescue" advice. This student has none of the supports required to achieve a goal of a liberal arts degree, nor would we want to help him/her with a pathway that has dismal job prospects and does nothing more than consume $40,000 in student aid and wastes years of resources and time this student could have been working. Individuals facing situations like with this should look at stackable credential programs in techncial or wrokforce development programs. They need HONEST advice, though it may be tough, that they are best suited to get into a 15 credit certificate program (that has a job outcome in the workforce areas hiring, if they end up finishing only that award). Then if the can, move on to a diploma program for another 20+ credits, setting their sights on completing a 60 credit A.A.S. degree, a degree that may not transfer to a university program...but who cares? The goal here is to get this person working, not make a philosopher out of them. They will get 15 credits of general education along the way that will transfer. They can always complete a bacheleor's degree AFTER they are making $20-25 an hour using their techncial degree in a great manufacturing or industry job, though almost none will take that route once they have attained gainful employment.

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rickbmnSep. 3, 12 9:41 AM

Gotta love the education system and the educators and administrators. So people graduate high school not prepared for college. They get to college and have to pay for classes to learn stuff they should have been taught (and learned) for free in high school. (Well, except for the enormous tax payer bill of $10K per student.) I wonder how much the left would be screaming if a bank, Wall Street, or a large corporation pulled this kind of crap? Perhaps we need more rules and regulations on the education system. I mean, if rules and regs are the answer for everyting in the public sector, why not public education? (Can't they practice what they preach?)

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ganjed75Sep. 3, 12 9:59 AM

The instructors at the schools need to do away with attendence requirements. I just completed my A.A.S. at DCTC and the majority of students that dropped out of classes weren't failing academically. They were getting hit on their grades for attendance. They had children, jobs, and other outside issues. The instructors were not tolerant of missing any class-time, but if the work can be done at home and submitted, there should not be an issue. It is discouraging to see students give up because they will fail the class just because they missed too many classes yet they are fully capable of doing the work and passing hte tests.

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boogawoogaSep. 3, 12 6:55 PM

Didn't these schools read the latest article from Forbes magazine about jobs. Hint: nobody is going to have careers anymore because industry doesn't want permanent workers, only casual and per diem employees. I don't care who's president next, nobody will be hired at full time anymore. All the campaign promises about creating millions of jobs are moot when 30% of workers in this country hold temporary jobs right now. That will increase at least 10% over the next decade with U.S. workers looking at many small jobs, with many fields of work throughout their lives in this country. College right now is only paying to keep teachers and "market priced" administrators employed. Dump them! Build your hands on skills and get used to having dream after dream unfulfilled.

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swmnguySep. 3, 12 7:03 PM

As is usually the case with the schools, the problems of society at large show up and are then considered the school's problems.

The schools don't help themselves, either, with their clue-free attitude. Students are dropping out for "Nonacademic reasons?" You mean, "Economic Reasons?" Well, duh. Who is going to Community College? People who can afford to take a break from their lives and their bills to go to school full-time? These people think it will help to make sure people "Accept Personal Responsibility," demonstrated by not dropping out? Sorry folks, for a lot of people the responsible thing to do is to keep the job with changing demands, the better to take care of the kids.

It would be really nice to be able to make decisions that will pay off in 10 years, rather than be forced to deal with the exigencies of the moment, but that takes money. That's why people on the lower end of the spectrum make so many short-term decisions with negative long-term consequences; because they don't have the money right now to buy the time to make the decision that pans out best over the long term. Anybody who doesn't know that has never been poor; has never been one tricky transmission away from losing a job, that will lead to getting evicted, etc.

Another thing to consider is why so many people think they need to go to college in the first place. Why are they going to Community College? Some kids go out of high school, to get credits for cheap and then transfer to a 4-year school. Good for them. Savvy move.

But most people go to CC to get what used to be on-the-job training. Now they have to pay to get what employers used to train them for. A business expense has been transferred onto potential employees.

Colleges and universities have a lot to answer for in this. With the GI Bill, they got a federally-funded windfall that led to an explosion in the number of colleges and programs. That also led to an explosion in the number of people with degrees. I've seen businesses requiring 4-year degrees for receptionist/light clerical jobs. What a scam. And now with federally guaranteed loans for the schools, and making student loan debt non-dischargeable through bankruptcy, there's a captive market to be milked.

People have to spend tens of thousands of borrowed dollars to get a job that pays more than the poverty level for a family. They have to pay it back, even if it comes out of their co-signing parent's Social Security. The incentive is to admit anyone with a pulse, and put them on the hook.

I'm all in favor of a Liberal Arts education for everyone. But the financial incentives here are perverse indeed, and the schools are blaming the victims.

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