Presidential Ponderings

The rhythm of the school year calendar is one of the elements of college admissions counseling that I most enjoy. Each season brings a different set of priorities to my office and the start of each new school year brings the anticipation of new possibilities. During the WACAC Board retreat this summer, we had the opportunity to reflect on how we might shape new possibilities for our association as part of a strategic planning process that will direct our efforts for the next four to five years. We are a volunteer run, not-for-profit organization and it is important that we carefully use our resources, especially the time donated by our many volunteers, to maximize our service to our members.   Over three days, lively and thoughtful discussions ensued from WACAC’s talented board members, who come from high schools, public and private, colleges and universities, public and private, independent consulting firms and community colleges and from California and Nevada. From these varied … [Read more...]

One Year Anniversary of a Day That Changed My Life Forever

One would think, based on this title, I might supply the summary of my year as your president. And although May 21st, 2013, the day I took office, was exciting and full of promise, it was actually 17 days later, June 7th, when a man with a gun stepped on our campus and terrorized our community for less than 10 minutes. He started his rampage 75 yards outside my office, and 3 lives were lost and families will live with scars forever. As will our campus community. And I want to emphasize, that these scars tend to burn and hurt when it happens again at Santa Barbara, or elsewhere in this country. And although the scars hurt and burn occasionally, they keep us aware, cautious and thankful. Thankful that we can pick ourselves up, support our neighbors, friends and colleagues and continue our mission of educating and providing hope and promise to our country and our world, via education. Do not, I repeat, do not let this kind of fear and intimidation keep us from moving forward in our … [Read more...]

“Should Community College Students Earn an AA Degree Before Transferring to a 4 year Institutions?”

This was the title of a paper (Crosta and Kopko, 4/2014, Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University) that poses a broad question, but even in the opening abstract, narrows the definition to “…earning a transfer-oriented associate degree.” When did researchers begin using unrelated rhetorical questions for paper titles? A better title would have been “Community College Students Who Earn Transfer Oriented AA Degrees Are More likely to Earn a BA/BS”. In 2010, SB 1440 required California community colleges and CSU’s to create transfer oriented degrees.   In the introduction of their article, the authors site a conclusion from another study that is at the crux of the problems inherent with some of California Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADT): “…more credits can delay bachelor’s degree completion if those credits do not properly transfer to the receiving institution. In theory, earning an associate degree before transfer should propel a student toward … [Read more...]

Community Colleges Offering Bachelor’s-Part 2

Here is the ideal bachelor’s degree program offered at a community college: “The Southern Illinois University program is an accelerated bachelor’s degree program in Aviation Management, held in our classrooms at Mt. San Antonio College. Students completing the A.S. degree at Mt. SAC (with special attention to specific details about the SIU general education requirements) can enter the SIU B.S. degree program in Aviation Management immediately after completion of their A.S. degree.” ( I am all for collaborating with baccalaureate granting institutions to create programs like the one above. Let the community colleges focus on what we do best, which is remediation for underprepared students, A.A. degrees, vocational education, lifelong learning, and transfer. Even with these missions, there are tussles over resources at each of our community colleges for the folks in charge of each of these missions. You … [Read more...]

Own the Decision!!

I know that I promised a part two to my position against community colleges offering BA/BS degrees, but that will have to wait for my April blog post.  I prefer to discuss how I help students make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. I have a son who had a plethora of college choices back in 2009.  Narrowing down the choices, then visiting those colleges to speak with the chairs of the departments he was interested in, gave him some direction.  An honest discussion about what we, as parents, could pay for, and about his loan obligations after graduation, though previously discussed, had a bit more relevance and gave him some more direction.  And lastly, our opinions as parents and educators gave him some further direction.  But, ultimately, the message was, "It is your decision, and you must live with that decision.  Do you have all the information you need to make your decision?  Never.  Do you have enough information to make your decision?  Yes."  And then there … [Read more...]