“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...]

Thanks for the Entertainment

While many students this time of year are celebrating wonderful admission letters, scholarship awards, etc., and then there are also the other ones. You know the ones I mean. The students with the situations that make us sigh, cry, laugh, or triple facepalm. Some of them are exasperating, some are odd, and some are downright entertaining. You know who they are… if only they knew who they were! Conversations with them often include phrases like: “I thought for sure I’d get in to First Choice University, so I didn’t apply anywhere else” (stated with denial letter in hand). We all know this one. This is usually the student who never made a counseling appointment, attended a workshop, or looked at the university’s website, because “they” know better than we do. The student heard “them” say it was easy to get admitted. It turns out that “they” did their college research via memes on Instagram. “I was going to apply to Local State U., but I heard the parking there is even worse than … [Read more...]

Transfer Topics: The Jeopardy Method

I once took a class in which the instructor used what he referred to as the “Jeopardy Method” of grading. Under his system, students earned points for correct test answers, well-written essays, etc., but we could also lose points for poor performance, even on optional extra credit projects. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least, as I approached an extra credit report knowing that the score could either solidify the A I’d earned so far, or drop my grade to a C for class. Since students never really knew what goal they needed to work for at any given time, it’s no surprise that his “Jeopardy Method” left people with a lot of questions and doubts about their status and the fairness of his system. I sometimes wonder if some universities also believe in some sort of “Jeopardy Method” in managing their transfer admissions criteria. I should point out that I am a Transfer Center Coordinator, and while I work with Admissions and Outreach personnel at many schools, my perspective is … [Read more...]

Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted

“Hey, aren’t you the Transfer Guy?” , said the young woman as I was walking across the SMC campus during the last week of September.  Of course, I was thinking about the upcoming college fair, budget issues, UC and CSU application workshops, the Common App, and, after a week due to the NACAC Conference in Toronto and missing laundry day, do I have enough clean underwear to get me through the week. I don’t do a lot of one on one counseling, but mostly workshops and classroom presentations, so I am sorta familiar to a lot of students.  I answered “Yes.  What can I do for you?” She went on to tell me her name is Amanda and she just finished her first year at UCLA, after transferring from SMC.  She is a Gender Studies major, and toying with the idea of double majoring in Spanish Literature.  She continued to tell me that her first year at UCLA was hard, but so rewarding and worth the effort.  She was just back from a one year study abroad program in Spain.  She also told me she had … [Read more...]

My 50th First Day of School

Since Mrs. Loomis’ kindergarten class at Parkway Elementary School in Fall 1963, through and including last Monday, August 26, 2013 at Santa Monica College, I have celebrated, and I do mean celebrated, 50 straight “First Days of School”.  I have either worked in or attended educational institutions for half of a century. The Sunday before “The First Day of School”, I was shopping at Trader Joe’s right when they opened at 8am.  Employees were still stocking items on the shelves for the day.  In the first aisle, the conversation between two employees went something like this: “You still in the nursing program?” “Yeah, I am taking Microbiology this Fall.” “Microbiology?  That sounds hard.” “Yeah, but it is what I want to do.” In the next aisle, the conversation went something like this, two different employees: “School starting for you tomorrow?” “Yeah, parking is gonna be hell.  Taking classes in summer was much easier.” “You almost done?” “Close. But I will … [Read more...]