Successful Practices That Promote Community College Student Term Paper

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Successful Practices That Promote Community College Student Success

Community colleges are an invaluable educational resource today, and many two-year college students go on to pursue four-year degrees and beyond upon completion. Many others, though, fail to complete their attendance at community colleges, while others may not achieve their full range of personal and professional goals in such settings. Because minorities represent a growing percentage of community college students in the U.S., it is important to identify what factors contribute to their success in these institutions and what steps can be taken to facilitate their continuing education in a four-year college. To this end, this paper provides a review of the current relevant peer-related and scholarly literature to identify a set of best practices that can promote the success of community college students. A discussion of the programs and strategies considered to be most appropriate for Hispanic students' success is followed by supporting rationale. A summary of the research is provided in the conclusion.

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While the percentage of minority students in America's community colleges continues to increase, there remains a dearth of timely studies concerning what factors contribute to their success in such settings and what factors compel them to go on to pursue advanced studies at four-year colleges (Santos, 2004; Brocata et al., 2003). According to O'Brien and Zudak (1998), "Minority students now account for almost 23% of postsecondary education students. Their enrollment, which has increased over the past 20 years, has been representative of the overall increase in higher education enrollment. Minority growth in actual numbers and their increasing percentage rate in the general population make them a special target for proactive institutional response" (quoted in Santos, 2004 at p. 18). Researchers have reported that the number of Hispanics in American colleges will continue to increase, and Hispanic undergraduate enrollment will rise in the United States by one million by 2015, representing fully 15.4% of the nation's college population (Santos, 2004). Recent demographic trends have suggested hat in the year 2000, minority populations accounted for 33% of the population in the United States, with Hispanics representing the largest minority group, constituting 11.5% of the total population and one third of the minority population (U.S. Census, 2000). Furthermore, by the year 2000, the Hispanic population had already accounted for 40% of the total population growth in the U.S. And a number of researchers have pointed out that these changing demographics clearly demonstrate that Hispanics are representative of an important and integral part of America's future (Santos, 2004). This author concludes that, "Given this information, it is essential to ensure that minority populations are equipped -- through educational success -- to contribute to the future of the country" (Santos, 2004, p. 18).

Hispanics also enroll in community colleges for a variety of reasons, including less expensive tuition and more convenient locations; one Hispanic student explained: "To go to a community college for your first two years is a smart thing because you spend so much money going to a university" (this student also believed that the quality of education at a community college was equal to that of a university) (Bulakowski, Jumisko, & Weissman, 1998). Many minority community college students, though, face a wide range of obstacles and challenges in their academic pursuits during their community college experience that may affect their decision to attend a four-year college (Cohen & Brawer, 1996). According to Bulakowski and his associates (1998), Hispanic students were more likely to feel like they did not "fit in" at four-year colleges "where they perceive a climate where majority students think all minorities are special admits" (p. 19). Other Hispanic students reported a lack of peer support during their four-year college experience (Maxwell, 2000). Other researchers note that these types of negative stereotypes were difficult to counter because although they were overt, they still existed, and there appears to be some regional differences in how these perceptions are felt throughout the country (Nora & Rendon, 1996). Based on their analysis of initiatives designed to assist two-year minority students successfully make the transition to a college environment in general, Bulakowski and his colleagues emphasize the importance of helping the college faculty and staff understand the varying nature of the transition process. "College staff who interact with students must be aware of the different issues students bring to college and use that knowledge to improve support to students," they advise. "Customer service can be enhanced by helping staff understand the complex challenges some students face as they enter college, for example, their lack of understanding about some of the processes of application, assessment, advising, counseling, financial aid, registration, textbooks, syllabi, and faculty hours" (Bulakowski et al., 1996, p. 19).

It has also been established that, compared to their four-year college counterparts, community college students in the United States are more likely to be minorities, to be first-generation college students, and to come from lower socioeconomic groups (Morphew, Twombly & Wolf-Wendel, 2001). Moreover, Morphew and his colleagues (2001) note that while many four-year colleges in general and private schools in particular have sought to diversify their student bodies, these institutions' student body composition has remained fairly homogeneous; some of the factors that contribute to this homogeneity include: high costs, high admissions standards, location, and a dearth of a significant ethnic population in surrounding communities. According to these authors, "These colleges rarely look to community colleges as a potential source of high ability students of color. The same could be said for large public universities. For example, our university constantly seeks students of color, and yet it does not typically look to establish transfer agreements with out-of-state community colleges as a potential source of these students" (Morphew, 2001, p. 2).

In response to this situation, the authors report that an agreement between a private, elite college (Smith College, located in western Massachusetts), and two community colleges (Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California and Miami-Dade Community College, both of which have significant Hispanic student populations) in which transfer agreements for minority students were carefully coordinated to the four-year institution with highly positive results. Although the two community colleges adopted different approaches for this purpose, both schools reported a "win-win" result. According to one administrator at Smith: "What we wanted was to create the opportunity for students who wanted a different kind of experience [as compared to a California public university] and who were ready for a different kind of experience and would really benefit from that" (quoted in Morphew et al., 2001 at p. 2). Both community colleges involved in the transfer program maintain (a) high profile transfer advising programs, (b) actively seek out innovative arrangements with a variety of institutions and institutional types, - invite a variety of campus recruiters to visit, (d) visit a variety of campuses themselves, and (d) invest resources in advertising themselves to potential and current students as being places that facilitate transfer (Morphew et al., 2001).

In sum, the transfer program helps Smith diversify its student body while providing minority students with the opportunity to attend a four-year college they might not have otherwise considered. For example, for Smith, "It is helpful for the academic image of the community colleges involved to be able to say they send students to four-year institutions such as Smith" (Morphew et al., 2001, p. 2). Likewise, for the community college students, all three institutions reported that community college students stand to benefit the most from such agreements. For instance, an administrator at Smith College noted that, "It is not just the idea of having a collaboration with Smith College, but to have students understand that they can go to places like Smith.... And that we have this kind of agreement might make them say 'Gee, maybe there is a chance that I should be setting my sights… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Successful Practices That Promote Community College Student.  (2007, August 1).  Retrieved June 1, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Successful Practices That Promote Community College Student."  1 August 2007.  Web.  1 June 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Successful Practices That Promote Community College Student."  August 1, 2007.  Accessed June 1, 2020.