Monday, April 18, 2016

COMMUNITY COLLEGE - Boosting Graduation Rates

"NYC community colleges invest in student support to boost grad rates" PBS NewsHour 4/12/2016


SUMMARY:  Can New York City dramatically increase graduation rates at its community colleges?  That's the goal behind a support program for full-time students, which offers financial help, convenient schedules and the encouragement of an adviser.  Hari Sreenivasan reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The Obama administration has long touted efforts to boost college completion.  But graduation rates haven't budged.  That's why states across the country are watching an effort in New York City that promises to more than double graduation rates at community colleges.

Hari Sreenivasan went to the Bronx to see how the city's community colleges plan to do it.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Karla Ayala is in her last semester at Bronx Community College.  If everything goes as planned, she will earn her associate's degree from the City University of New York campus in five semesters, or about two years.

Only 20 percent of community college students complete a degree or certificate within three years of enrollment.  Ayala has done it despite having the types of responsibilities that derail hundreds of thousands of students every year.

KARLA AYALA, Student, Bronx Community College:  College is stressful, and then on top of it having an outside life, I have kids, I'm married, I don't have a full-time job, but yet I have a responsibility part-time at school.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  She's stayed on track with the help of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, The City University of New York created the wrap-around support program for full-time students on some of its seven community college campuses in 2007.

KARLA AYALA:  I did a semester without being in ASAP, and it was a little hard, because I was — in a sense, I was lost.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Ayala is up at 6:00 to get the kids ready for school and out the door by 7:30, when her husband is already at work.  ASAP pays for any tuition not covered by scholarships, which meant $2,600 a semester for Ayala.

Students also get a stipend for textbooks.  Commuting costs in a city like New York can add up and become a hurdle.  ASAP provides free monthly MetroCards for city buses and trains, which normally cost $116.  Class schedules that change every semester can derail students who have to work or care for family.  ASAP students take blocks of classes that bring them to campus at the same time every day.  That means Ayala knows she can get home to pick the kids up from school.

But the most important support has come from her adviser.

No comments: