Universities fight 4-year CC degrees

Colorado university leaders are fighting a bill that would let community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in vocational  and technical fields, charging “mission creep.”  Supporters say rural students could earn workforce credentials without relocating. It’s a growing trend with Florida community colleges leading the way.

U of Phoenix partners with community colleges

The University of Phoenix will roll out more than 100 new partnerships with community colleges in the coming year. The nation’s largest for-profit university will offer bachelor’s degree programs to two-year graduates, gaining students who are more likely to graduate and repay their student loans.

Under increasing regulatory scrutiny, the University of Phoenix has seen enrollment drop precipitously from a peak near 500,000 to 320,000.

The trouble with transfer reforms

Streamlining transfers between community colleges and four-year universities makes sense, but transfer reforms won’t help more students earn bachelor’s degrees. States with streamlined articulation policies don’t have higher transfer rates, higher bachelor’s degree completion rates, shorter time-to-degree and/or fewer “wasted” credits.

Soldier earns valedictorian honors

After working 12 hours a day as a hazardous materials specialist at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Dysha Huggins-Hodge studied in the computer lab, determined to complete an associate degree at Anne Arundel Community College on schedule — and to earn A’s. Now stationed in Maryland, the 4.0 student gave the valedictorian speech at her graduation last week.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Women earned 62 percent of associate degrees and 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees in 2008-09.

Who pays for college? Who gains?

College pays for bachelor’s degree graduates, though it pays a lot better for graduates of selective colleges and universities than it does for those who go to unselective colleges, concludes a new report. But the return on investment isn’t all that great for taxpayers.

Also on Community College Spotlight (and taking the other side of the argument): Higher education is a huge bubble that’s about to burst.

I congratulated my sister on being the mother of two college graduates: Her son Alan earned a computer science degree in March and daughter Lee earned a degree in cognitive science a few days ago.  “I’m the mother of two unemployed people,” she said.

Some states slash universities, trim CCs

Some states are planning deep cuts to state universities and smaller cuts to community colleges.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Do nurses need a bachelor’s degree?

Four-year college doesn’t fit all

Four-year college doesn’t fit all students, argues Beyond One-Size-Fits-All College Dreams: Alternative Pathways to Desirable Careers in American Educator. Low achievers should aim for vocational certificates rather than bachelor’s degrees, argue the authors.

For-profit higher education is a bargain for taxpayers, according to a new study that compares public costs of the for-profit, non-profit and public sectors.

IBM and City University of New York plan a six-year high school-college hybrid that will graduate students with an associate degree and the inside track to a job.

It’s all on Community College Spotlight.

UC may offer all-online degree

University of California leaders want to offer an online bachelor’s degree comparable in quality to its prestigious campus programs, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale – and that has not been done,” said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort.

But a number of skeptical faculty members and graduate student instructors fear that a cyber UC would deflate the university’s five-star education into a fast-food equivalent, cheapening the brand. Similar complaints at the University of Illinois helped bring down that school’s ambitious Global Campus program last fall after just two years.

Tomorrow, UC regents  will hear about a pilot program of 25 to 40 courses, which will be developed if UC can raise $6 million from private donors. In the short term, the university needs alternatives to crowded writing and math classes. In the long term, Edley hopes to expand access to a UC education, collect more tuition money and spend less per student.

The model is Stanford University’s online graduate engineering degree, which is highly respected and open to students who never set foot in California.

“Within 30 minutes of a class being taught at Stanford, we’re able to offer it around the world,” said Andy DiPaolo, senior associate dean at the School of Engineering. “We think in many ways it’s comparable (in quality). “

Stanford uses the same admissions process and requirements for online and traditional degrees.

A Berkeley Faculty Association report knocked the online plan:

“The danger is not only degraded education, but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum,” it said. “It is also likely that the whole thing will be a boondoggle.”

Furthermore, the report said, online instruction is “inappropriate for many subjects and types of learning.”

UC Online needs a “coalition of the willing,” Edley said, “not universal support.”

UC shouldn’t rush into cyber-education, write a coalition of unwilling professors in the Chronicle. Doing it well requires a lot of money — with no guarantee that the education will match the “face-to-face dialogue that is the hallmark of university education.”

UC’s online efforts should focus on serving California students who hope to transfer to the university, not on marketing the “UC Brand” across the globe, the professors argue. A global UC “would require outsourcing teaching to part-timers who are not researchers, resulting in a decline in quality for those students who are our primary responsibility.”

Furthermore, “simply to extract bits of teaching and put them online out of context would sever the links between teaching and research that make UC special.”

Leave no motivated adult behind

On Community College SpotlightLeave no motivated adult behind and Florida’s two-year colleges add four-year degrees.

Degrees of employment

A majority of college graduates 25 and under are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree — if they’re working at all — concludes a survey by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.  From McClatchy News:

”I’ve never seen it this low and we’ve been analyzing this stuff for over 20 years,” said center director Andrew Sum.

Only about a third of Asian female graduates and black and Hispanic male graduates are in jobs that require a degree. Except for Asian males, who have the highest college-level employment rate, women are more likely to be in college-level jobs than men. (I have no clue why the spread is so wide between Asian males and females. More technical degrees for the guys?)

It’s not going to get any better any time soon.

Employers expect to hire 22 percent fewer graduating seniors for entry-level positions this year than in 2008, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The story includes a young man with a political science degree from Western Michigan who’s applied for the same bank teller job he had before college and a young woman with a Penn State journalism degree, an unpaid internship and hopes of paid employment. And if that doesn’t work, she can try the buggy-whip industry.

In depressed Dayton, the high-paying factory jobs have vanished, reports the New York Times.  “Recession’s children,” high school grads who want steady jobs, are considering college or the military.

Going to community college to learn vocational skills is a good bet for young people who lack academic interests. The 20-year-old with the medical technology certificate is going to trump the 22-year-old with the degree in journalism or political science — and a pile of loans to pay off.