“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...]

Empowerment is Not the Same as Expertise

I recently read a thought-provoking essay titled “The Death of Expertise,” by Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and an adjunct at the Harvard Extension School. I’m not an expert on expertise, so perhaps I shouldn’t try to summarize his article, but the primary message I got from it is that in the Internet age, with its democratization of knowledge, the value of expertise is under attack. The theory is that since everyone can learn everything about anything, people are increasingly viewing experts as unnecessary. Try telling that to a college counselor. I am an expert in the process of transferring from a California community college to a four year university, but even in that very specific niche, I have a hard time referring to myself that way. Many others know more than I do and, like anyone, I occasionally make a mistake or get something wrong. But I know more than the average person does about my field, so I’ll concede that after ten-plus years of … [Read more...]

We Can’t Compete with Internet Cats, and Other Lessons Learned from Application Season

For California’s transfer counselors and staff, the dust is slowly settling after the peak application season. Like running a marathon or spring break in Cancun, after some time passes we’re able to forget the pain and reflect upon the experience. With a little luck and perspective, sometimes a lesson or two emerges. These are a few of mine from this year. It’s Really Not Just a Season Anymore: Every year it seems like there is less and less of a specific application season as the process creeps across the whole calendar. Ever-changing applications, supplemental apps, post-application follow-up processes, students attending multiple colleges, changes to TAG, the moving targets of impaction criteria, deadlines and extensions, etc., etc. are all blending into a year-round project. The High Price of Cheap Insurance: It’s amazing to me how often a student won’t invest an extra $55 to apply to an additional school, giving themselves an option that could pay off for the next two years … [Read more...]