Last year, community colleges across America helped over 1.3 million of their students save$20 billion dollars in tuition on their way to a bachelor's degree! That’s a significant accomplishment. But, the editorial mission of The Advocate of Affordable College blog is to find new ways to help even more community college students to afford and attain a bachelor's degree. Our goal is to be the recognized authority on this topic.
Launching a blog is easy enough. But launching a high-quality blog that is trusted, provides substantial value, and is recognized as an authoritative source when mentioned by name requires great content and great commitment from everyone involved. We want to create the latter.
To reach this goal, we will publish articles that:
- Are written by experts, advocates, educators, and students who know the topic well;
- Cover the topics driven by the genuine interests of readers of this site;
- Provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis;
- Describe both sides of a story;
- Are edited well;
- Provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic; and
- Contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious.
Asking the hard questions about college affordability
We will ask hard questions like, “Why do students lose approximately 13 credits following the first transfer?” Basically, we will take the time to shed light on how college transfer impacts college affordability.
For example, we will dig into the statistical analysis report entitled, “Transferability of Postsecondary Credit Following Student Transfer or Coenrollment,” which found that 35 percent of first-time beginning undergraduate students transferred at least once during the 6-year period of the study. The report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) said, “Of the students who did transfer, approximately 39 percent transferred no credits, 28 percent transferred some credits, and 32 percent transferred all previously earned credits in the first transfer. On average, students lost approximately 13 credits following the first transfer.”
Examining the country’s best community colleges
We will take a closer look at some of the nation’s best community colleges to see what they are doing to offer a high quality education at a low cost, with a high success rate and a good return on investment.
For example, SmartAsset, a financial technology company, recently published its second annual study of the top 10 and top 100 community colleges in America. SmartAsset looked at 565 out of the 1,047 public two-year colleges from across the country and the data used in their study comes from the National Center for Education Statistics and collegemeasures.org.
SmartAsset used four metrics to determine the top schools: The student-teacher ratio at each school, in-state tuition, the graduation and transfer rate at each school, and the ratio of the average starting salary to the overall cost. We think their methodology, which considers quality, cost, success rate, and ROI, is a welcome step forward, even if the latest study produced the some surprising results, including:
- Arizona and Kansas schools rate well. Arizona and Kansas each claim three of the top 15 spots in SmartAsset’s ranking, with Kansas’s Fort Scott Community College taking the top overall spot.
- The Northeast gets an F. Only two northeast states have any of the nation’s best community colleges (Maine has three and Massachusetts has one). Notably absent are New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, which boast a number of the nation’s top four-year schools, but no top community colleges.
Conducting original research on credit transfer
We will also conduct more original research. For example, a survey conducted by the organizers of The Affordable College Public Benefit Corporation, found that up to 80 percent of students who were enrolled at a 2-year public institution in the U.S. were likely to transfer to another institution.
The survey asked, ‘How likely are you to transfer to another institution?’ Of the 245 community college students who responded, a statistically significant 31 percent said ‘completely likely’, 23 percent said ‘very likely,’ 20 percent said ‘somewhat likely,’ 7 percent said ‘slightly likely,’ and 20 percent said ‘not at all likely.’The survey also asked, ‘What is your reason for considering transfer to another institution?’ Of the 293 responses by community college students, a statistically significant 54 percent said ‘to continue my education,’ 17 percent said ‘reduced costs/expenses,’ 14 percent said ‘more/better program choices,’ 9 percent said ‘a better fit,’ and only 6 percent said ‘an institution with a better reputation.’Finally, the survey asked, ‘Which of the following will be the most important factor when selecting another institution?’ Of the 293 responses, a statistically significant 32 percent said ‘transfer of most credits toward degree,’ 23 percent said ‘reduced costs/expenses,’ 18 percent said ‘more/better program choices,’ 17 percent said ‘availability of financial aid,’ and only 9 percent said ‘institution with a better reputation.’
Clearing a path for community college students
The Advocate of Affordable College blog is supported by The Affordable College Public Benefit Corporation, a B Corp founded to provide community college students with a clear path to an affordable bachelor’s degree by bringing together community colleges and universities in a Transfer Student Marketplace. Its Community College Success Fund provides financial support for community colleges to increase enrollment, retention, and transfer rates.The inability to transfer credits, more than a lack of preparation or financial aid, is a key obstacle to graduation for students who move from a two-year to a four-year college, according to recent research by doctoral candidate David B. Monaghan (Sociology) and distinguished professor Paul Attewell (Sociology, Urban Education) of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The research reveals: “the greater the loss, the lower the chances of completing a BA.”So, in conjunction with the College Transfer Pathways group on LinkedIn, The Advocate of Affordable College blog’s role is clearing a path for community college students to a recognized bachelor’s degree by tackling the two most important factors that will impact their decision – credit transfer and college affordability.
(Greg Jarboe is the editor of The Advocate of Affordable College blog and the former editor of the Knowledge Transfer blog. He’s also the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, an instructor at the Rutgers Business School, the content marketing faculty chair at Market Motive, as well as the author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.)