The Real College Experience

“Done! My speech is done!” my dad told me, so enthusiastically. It was the night before his college graduation ceremony. I still remember that graduation reception late in the afternoon. There were so many people and he looked incredibly happy. After working with lawyers for over ten years, he had finally decided it was time for him to go to college and get a degree. But going to college wasn't easy for him. He continued to work full time during the day and took evening classes. It took him six years and he made it to the end. Now, he was ready to deliver his speech on behalf of his entire class. He was fifty-six years old.

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An Annotated Bibliography on Summer Melt

As part of my research on Summer Melt, I have found a number of different articles and resources available that inform this complex issue. However, the literature on this topic appears to be robust and well-documented. Most of the literature points to what high school institutions can do to address this issue but a few good articles point to how colleges in general can respond by integrating and engaging students on campus in effective ways. Here are ten resources I've found thus far.

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Workforce Education and Community Colleges

Somewhere on the halls of LaGuardia’s E building and talking to a few people who have been at the college for over two decades, I learned the history and first few years of the college. Back in the early 70s, LaGuardia was founded as Community College Number Nine and one of its goals was to help high school graduates get skills that would make them marketable to the workforce. Back then, there was a big emphasis on vocational education and in preparing students to get a better job that would eventually result in better financial outcomes. The economy evolved and it was critical to prepare these students to adapt and be successful. While vocational preparation continues to be important, other aspects of education have emerged in the last decades. This post aims to discuss key points made by Mellow and Heelan (2015) about workforce education and how these complement to Hilliard’s (2017) insights on New York’s current approaches to boosting student success beyond high school education.

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Building bridges with developmental education

The challenges that many community college students face are most of the time connected to the lack of academic preparation to endure college-level content thus making it difficult for faculty to achieve the learning outcomes desired. In reading Mellow and Heelan (2015), I deepened my understanding about developmental and remedial studies. To start, community colleges are the institutions that invest the most in this area because, and not surprisingly, they welcome students with varying academic needs. One point that resonates with me is that an ideal developmental program must be embraced by all faculty and administration. But why would it not? If developmental education exists to help students make it to graduation, why would a faculty member not support it? I pose this questions to myself as I acknowledge the reality that not all faculty share the same goals and perspective about teaching developmental courses, and some are not even aware of how it works.

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A Summer Journey, A Summer Melt

Jonathan is a young guy living in New York City and he has decided to start college in the Fall. He’s heard from two colleges that have accepted him and he’s chosen the one he wants to attend. Although he is enthusiastic about it, he is anxious too about the many things this college is asking him to complete before starting his first semester—high school grades, immunizations, financial aid application, regents scores, placement test notifications and the list goes on and on. At one point, he feels overwhelmed and simply lost about where to start or where to go for help. Jonathan’s parents are supportive of his plans but since they didn’t go to college, it’s hard to put themselves in his shoes. Meanwhile, Jonathan knows he needs to work at least part-time so that he can help with the bills at home. The fall semester is around the corner and Jonathan hasn’t yet submitted everything.

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Look around: who attends a Community College?

"You need to take remedial courses" she said out loud while looking at the sheet of paper in her hands. "Ok, so you're going to take this, this, and this" she said, with a sign of relief as when someone finds a solution to a problem, and pointing her finger to a sheet of paper with a list of courses. I remained silent and before I was ready to say something, she handed me the sheet of paper and continued: "Go to the lab down the hall to register and don't forget to print your schedule before you leave, ok? Good luck." So, I went. This was my first advisement session in college.

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A discussion about Community Colleges

I still remember how confused I was when I read that letter. I had applied to CUNY and my only option had been Hunter College—It was my only idea of what college was back then, for some reason. I had moved to NYC just a few months before and everything was new to me. As a prospective college student, I wasn’t looking for options, I didn’t consider anything else beyond my single chosen college. I followed what the letter suggested, I didn’t go to Hunter College; and instead, I went ahead and enrolled at LaGuardia Community College. It was a beautiful spring season when I started, I remember. And although I enrolled thinking that I was going to transfer after obtaining 24 credits, I ended up graduating. I don’t regret it.

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