March 1, 2017
Many students are interested in how to succeed in community college. And several experts have written books or articles that identify the keys to community college success. Which ones should you read?
Greg Jarboe
What are the keys to community college success?

Many students are interested in how to succeed in community college. And several experts have written books or articles that identify the keys to community college success. Which ones should you read?

Affordable College, a public benefit corporation with a mission to help more community college students afford and attain a high-quality degree, certificate or credential, and our strategic partner, Onondaga Community College (OCC), a place where all students receive the support they need to succeed, thrive, and persist to completion, has reviewed a large number of books and articles about “Achieving the Dream” and suggest that you consider reading the small handful below.

Cornerstones for Community College Success

Written by Robert M. Sherfield and Patricia G. Moody specifically for students attending two-year programs, Cornerstones for Community College Success addresses the needs and challenges of students in community colleges as well as the “why” of learning. This book is well known for its concrete and practical strategies that students can apply to all their college classes, the world of work, and life in general.

Published in 2013 by Pearson Cornerstones includes chapters about:

·  Change: Creating success, guiding change, and setting goals.

·  Engage: Developing your personal and academic motivation.

·  Persist: Understanding the culture of your community college.

·  Connect: Connecting with technology, research, and information literacy.

·  Think: Building critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and

·  Prioritize: Planning your time and reducing stress.

·  Learn: Discovering your learning style, dominant intelligence, and personality type.

·  Read: Building successful reading strategies for print and digital materials.

·  Record: Cultivating your listening skills and developing a note-taking system that works for you.

·  Study: Developing your memory, study, and test-taking skills.

·  Prosper: Managing your money and debts wisely.

·  Communicate: Communicating interpersonally, appreciating diversity, and managing conflict.

·  Plan: Focusing on your future and professional career. 

Among the other major topics that the book covers are: first generation students, adult learners, making successful transitions, and planning for success in the second year and beyond. Buying the student value Cornerstones for Community College Success costs from $22.66 (used) to $59.33 (new) for the loose leaf

Community College Success

While all community colleges – including OCC – give financially disadvantaged students a chance to open the door to education, simply walking through that door is not enough. Once there, many students need networking strategies and support to complete their journey successfully. In Community College Success: How to Finish with Friends, Scholarships, Internships, and the Career of Your Dreams, Isa Adney shares her secrets for connecting with others.

Adney landed unexpectedly in community college due to financial hardships, but the connections she made there with peers, professors, and professionals defined her success. While at

Community College Success is the first book to combine a youthful and accessible author with networking strategies specifically targeted to first-generation and community college students. This 182-page book gives historically under-represented students the strategic and motivational tools they need to be their own advocates and achieve their education and their dreams. Published in 2012 by Norlightspress.Com, the paperback version of Community College Success costs from $0.35 (used) to $13.95 (new) at Amazon. There is also a Kindle version for $7.99

“7 Steps to Success at Community College”

On Feb. 3, 2012, US News published “7 Steps to Success at Community College.” This article is written by Joanne Jacobs, a contributor to US News who also writes Community College Spotlight for The Hechinger Report, an independent nonprofit education news site. In other words, she is an expert on this topic.

For her article, Jacobs interviewed Lynda Villanueva, who was then the Associate Dean of Instruction and is now Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs at Brazosport College. In other words, she is also an expert on this topic.

Villanueva listed seven steps to success for students:

·  Identify sources: Know what campus resources are available to you before you need them.

·  Start early: Whether it is assignments, registering, visiting with an

·  Take the course: If you are given the option of taking a student success course, take it. Not all colleges require them, but they are one of the strongest support services a student can get.

·  Form contacts with peers: Again, research demonstrates that being engaged with others is a strong predictor of success.

·  Visit your professors: Instructors aren't scary and they enjoy visiting with students. Faculty

·  Appreciate feedback: Remember that feedback, even negative feedback, is an opportunity.

·  Never quit. Persistence is important.

“What Do You Advise Amy to Take?”

On Jan. 24, 2016, Inside Higher Ed published, “What Do You Advise Amy to Take?” Written by Matt Reid, the author of Confessions of a Community College Administrator, this post tackles “some of the issues that get in the way of successful community college to four-year transfer.” According to Reed, “transfer” is one of those topics that “many people think they understand, but few actually do. To the extent that most people think about it, they imagine students at community colleges getting the associate’s degree in two years, and then getting the bachelor’s in two more. And that does happen. But the picture is much more complicated than that.”

Lateral and reverse transfers have their own sets of issues. But, even with the more traditional vertical transfer, he says, “I get twitchy when I read about ‘leaky pipelines’ and community colleges. That language assumes that it’s essentially an engineering problem; it isn’t. It’s largely a political problem.”

Reed describes a riddle he tries to solve every single day on his campus. He says, “Amy wants to get her degree at the community college and transfer on for a bachelor’s, but she isn’t sure yet where she wants to go. Hypothetical State U wants her to have taken US History, Pre-calc, and a year of a foreign language. St. Somebody wants her to have taken European History, Statistics, and a separate diversity course. Meanwhile, Respected Private College wants her to have taken World Civ, Calc I, and a service learning course.”

Then he asks rhetorically, “What do you advise Amy to take?”

Achieving the Dream

In addition to reading the books and articles mentioned above, visit the page on the OCC website entitled, “Achieving the Dream.” It discusses Achieving the Dream, which is OCC’s key strategy to meet these goals by supporting a healthy transition to college, persistence through essential coursework, and retention to the completion of a degree or certificate.

Achieving the Dream is a comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success. Together with their network of higher education institutions, coaches and advisors, state policy teams, investors and partners, the initiative

After more than a decade of experience, Achieving the Dream has learned that improving student success on a substantial scale requires colleges to engage in bold, holistic, sustainable institutional change. Achieving the Dream's Institutional Capacity Framework is a comprehensive approach to addressing the emerging needs of the field to improve success results for all students, especially low-income students and students of color. The framework has at its core seven essential capacities that must be in place for colleges to create the student-focused culture that promotes student success. Colleges must be strong in each capacity area in order to take on any large-scale interventions such as guided pathways, the Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success in Higher Education (iPASS) or the Working Students Success Network at scale.

What are the keys to community college success?

Of course, we will get a lot farther faster with your help. If you fill out the short form below and give us your email address, then Affordable College along with OCC will provide you with unique, relevant information that’s tailored specifically to you. Together, we can help you discover the answer to the question: “What are the keys to community college success?”

(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.)