Making the transfer dream a reality

Eighty percent of community college students say they plan to transfer and earn a four-year degree, but only 15 percent will earn a bachelor’s degree in six years. Now colleges and universities are working harder to make the transfer dream a reality.

High-achieving, low-income community college transfers can succeed at very selective four-year colleges and universities, according to a study for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Apprenticeship vs. college

Apprenticeships are hot, but not all lead to middle-class jobs. A elevator constructor mechanic starts at $67,565 in Florida, more than double the starting pay of the average graduate with a bachelor’s degree. But apprenticeships in culinary arts and early childhood education lead to low-paying jobs.

72% of credentialed transfers earn 4-year degree

More than 61 percent of community college transfers earn a bachelor’s degree in six years.  Completion rates are much higher — 72 percent — for transfers who’ve earned a two-year degree in community college.

City Colleges of Chicago’s reinvention campaign has raised the graduation rate — from 7 percent to 12 percent. The five-year goal is 20 percent.

College is free for 5th-year students

Oregon and Colorado students can spend a “fifth year” in high school taking free community college courses leading to an associate degree.

4-year degree isn’t the only path to success

Too many Americans believe a young person who doesn’t earn a bachelor’s degree is a “second-class citizen,” says Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. “Let’s quit preaching to them that their only path to success is a four-year degree.”

Vocational certificates are growing in popularity, especially those that require a semester or two of community college. “The certificate is a good choice for the low-middle of the high-school graduation class,” said Stephen Rose, a Georgetown professor.

CC online courses help 4-year students

Four-year college students are using online community college courses to finish their degrees.

Community colleges aren’t just “second-chance” institutions.

Classes are cheap, but you can’t get in

Charging more for community college extension courses during summer and winter breaks is a necessary stopgap, editorializes the Los Angeles Times. While California is starting to restore funding to higher education, it will be years before the state’s community colleges can offer enough courses to meet demand.

Students are having trouble transferring in to the California State University system. San Jose State’s popular animation program accepts only 12 percent of transfers: Students need a 3.85 grade-point average to get in.

Credit creep raises community college costs

Credit creep is making it harder for community college students to complete an associate degree. Instead of 60 credits, many degrees require 70 credits or more. That  costs students time and money and lowers the odds they’ll earn a degree.

After two years at community college, transfers to four-year institutions are just as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree as similar students who started at the four-year college or university, an Illinois study finds.

Half of STEM jobs don’t need 4-year degree

Half of STEM jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to a new Brookings report. These jobs in manufacturing, health care, construction, installation, maintenance and repair pay $53,000 on average. That’s more than a barista with a sociology degree earns.

4-year degree is ‘ticket to nowhere’

Underemployed four-year graduates are enrolling in two-year colleges to earn job credentials. A business graduate with $60,000 in student loans calls her bachelor’s degree “just like a ticket to nowhere.” She’s now training for a certificate in paralegal studies.

“Some college” is better than a high school diploma in the workforce. If “some” means a vocational certificate in a technical field, it can lead to higher pay than a non-technical bachelor’s degree.