With the announcement from President Obama on his proposed legislation to increase access to community colleges at no cost to the student, there has been a buzz of great discussions online and in the higher education community about what this means for the future community colleges. While generally we see support for removing barriers to accessing higher education, some are concerned about giving the same financial benefit to those students coming from top income brackets. Others have stated this doesn’t go far enough in recognizing all the tangible and intangible costs with going to college.

As the dialogue will certainly continue over the course of 2015, it is incredibly important to keep front and center the student and what they need to successfully start and complete their higher education goals.

Affordability is the number 1 concern for students today and the President’s plan will absolutely help alleviate this barrier for millions. We also need to keep in mind that the average community college student is juggling many different life challenges. They come from various backgrounds and have different profiles including single parents, returning veterans, first generation in their family to go to college, working adults, etc. Based on our experience working with hundreds of Community Colleges these students need a significant amount of support in all aspects of their education process. They need help in the application and enrollment process, getting financial aid forms filled out properly, 24 hour access to general inquires, academic and general advising, and assistance with technology. Our experience shows that many Community Colleges are not set up to properly service students in the mode and medium they desire at all times of day. Removing these barriers helps keep students on their pathway.

This week I am presenting at the UPCEA-SOL conference in San Antonio, TX with Joan Zanders, Director of Financial Aid, from NOVA, a Community College which took bold steps to improve student access and support. By taking steps to focus on student support, they have taken a significant step forward to improve student satisfaction, retention and completion.

If you won’t be at UPCEA to hear Joan talk about what they are doing here.

After working with so many in the community college systems across the United States and seeing the challenges up close, I anticipate a great national dialogue on what a federal initiative can achieve in regards to increasing access to the community colleges. With such an important role educating our society, our hope is that realizing that it can’t stop at free tuition. We must also improve how we engage and service the student community once they start their process.

Related Posts

Share This Article

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Pinterest Email

  • jggggggggggg