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Moreover, James Rosenbaum (2001) of Northwestern University argues that "The college-for-all norm encourages all students to plan on college, regardless of their past achievement. So as not to discourage students, the college-for-all norm … fails to tell students what steps they should take to be successful in college" (p. 57). As a result, many students remain clueless about what it actually takes to succeed in college. A survey of 2,000-plus high school seniors in the Chicago area found that more than one-half of low-achieving students (with Cs or lower) still aspired to college, even though only
13.9 percent of such low-performing students were likely to attain even a two-year degree (Rosenbaum, 2001).
Finally, it's worth noting that high school career and technical education programs boast a completion rate of close to 90 percent (Rich, 2011)—far higher than the 75 percent rate of U.S. high schools in general (Rich, 2011) or the 60 percent graduation rate of colleges (Schneider, 2010).
More than One Road to Success
To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of the college diploma may have been greatly exaggerated. On average, college degrees—and especially professional degrees—still command a significant wage premium in the marketplace. Moreover, the old days of high school graduates earning a comfortable living are fading fast; the best-paying jobs of the future will all require some form of postsecondary education (Carnevale, Strohl, & Smith, 2010).
Certainly, there are many nonfinancial reasons to attend college. Yet to the extent that calls for preparing all students for college-level work are based on the belief that a four-year degree guarantees a passport into the middle class, educators would do well to remember that the route to a college degree is littered with dropouts and that many college graduates now find themselves mired in debt, underemployed, and earning less than those with middle skills. Indeed, for many students, a two-year degree or occupational certification, especially in high-demand 21st century technologies, may provide a better chance of rewarding work and financial security.
10 Reasons to Pick a Community College One of the fastest-growing and most important segments of the American college scene is the community college (in some cases called two-year, junior, or technical colleges). Including such institutions as Miami-Dade College, Broward College, Northern Virginia Community College and the many campuses of the Maricopa Community Colleges (Phoenix), City College of San Francisco, City College of New York, Los Angeles Community College District, and Houston Community College Systems, community colleges enroll a full 44 percent of U.S. undergraduate students. That's 6.7 million credit students, plus 5 million students who are not candidates for a degree, at 1,177 urban, suburban, and rural institutions. To find out what the main differences are between the community college and the four-year liberal arts institution—and whether you should consider applying to a community college—we invited visiting blogger George R. Boggs, former president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges and former president of Palomar College (a two-year
college in California), to offer his thoughts. Here's what he has to say:
With family budgets now under the microscope, community colleges have become attractive alternatives to the more expensive four-year colleges and universities. There are many reasons that nearly half of American undergraduates choose to start their higher education in a community college.
Here are the top 10:
1. Affordability. Average annual tuition and fees for a full-time student at community colleges average $2,402, versus $6,585 at a public four-year college or university and $25,143 at a private institution. In addition, students can live at home and save on housing and food. To help meet even these reduced expenses, community college students often find they qualify for financial aid while attending. And in many cases, the colleges offer work-study or part-time jobs for students.
2. Convenience. Community colleges offer classes at times and locations that are convenient for students. Classes are often offered at off-campus locations and in the evenings or on weekends in addition to the more traditional day classes. An abundance of online classes provides yet another alternative to make education convenient to those who must fit school around work or family responsibilities. And students can choose to attend on a full-time or a part-time basis.
3. Open access. Community colleges do not have exclusive admissions standards that require high scores on an admissions test or a certain grade-point average from high school. Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent can enroll. Some students even enroll while in high school to get a head start on college. Starting at a community college gives students a chance to improve a high school record before transferring to a university. However, open access does not mean that students can take any course; students usually are given placement examinations and then advised or placed into developmental courses if they are not up to college-level work.
4. Teaching quality. Community college classes are taught by faculty who care about teaching and student learning, not by teaching assistants. The faculty members are fully committed to teaching and are not pulled away by research interests or the need to publish in order to get tenure. And community colleges are accredited by the same agencies that accredit major universities.
5. Class size. Class sizes at community colleges are much smaller than those found in the freshman and sophomore year at public universities. Most classes have fewer than 35 students and provide more opportunities for students to interact with teachers and other students. Faculty members are accessible and want to help their students be successful.
6. Support services. Community colleges offer a variety of services to help students, and the wise ones learn how valuable these services can be. Services that are often found at community colleges include counseling, advising, tutorials, health care, financial aid, and library services. There are usually computer labs on campus to make it easier for students to complete assignments.
7. Choices. Community colleges offer both vocational programs and academic transfer programs.
For example, community colleges prepare most of the nation's registered nurses, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and advanced-skill technicians. Of course, community colleges also offer courses that transfer into universities and count toward a bachelor's degree. Certificate programs can be completed in a year or less, while associate degree programs take two full years of course work.
Of course, it's always important to check with a counselor to be sure that the courses count toward the degree that the student is seeking and that they transfer to the university program the student has identified.
8. Diversity. Community colleges serve the most diverse group of students in higher education.
Students differ by age, ethnicity, degree of disability, socioeconomic status, and in many other ways.
International students add yet another perspective. The opportunity to interact with and to learn from other students from many different backgrounds and with a variety of life experiences is another big advantage of starting at a community college.
9. Access to modern technology. Because of their strong partnerships with business and industry, community colleges often have cutting-edge equipment that is used by students in the classroom.
Employers want job candidates who have experience with the equipment being used by industry, including the most modern computers and scientific instruments. Since community colleges offer classes only at the freshman and sophomore levels, the use of the best equipment isn't reserved for juniors, seniors, and graduate students.
10. Good company. In case a student feels discouraged by the prospect of attending a local community college rather than his or her first-choice university, here are some people who are glad that they started in a community college: J. Craig Venter, the person who mapped the human genome; Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general; Eileen Collins, the first NASA female space shuttle commander; Nick Nolte, actor; Harry Reid, Senate majority leader; and Nolan Ryan, retired baseball pitcher. Several Nobel laureates, state governors, members of Congress, famous sports figures, famous actors, and distinguished business executives got their start in community colleges, but so have many thousands of nurses, skilled technicians, artists, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs.
Serving Our Region, Connecting Our World Since its inception in 1967, College of DuPage has matured into something very special. It's a community college with far-reaching impact. We're firmly rooted in the community that provides our mandate, yet committed to reflecting the needs and demands of an ever-changing world.
From our faculty through to our Board of Trustees, we understand the importance of remaining relevant on multiple levels: interpersonal, academic, civic, cultural and economic. With a steady eye on regional, national and international developments, College of DuPage fulfills its mission as an educational and economic agent of change for the residents it serves.
Beyond all other considerations, though, we are educators, devoted to the idea that knowledge is transformative. We believe there are few things more powerful than a mind engaged. We are excited by the possibilities ignited when knowledge is imparted through meaningful discourse, in the service of realizing each and every one of our community member's full potential.
We invite you to find out more about the world-class institution available to you and your family, right here at home.
COD at a Glance College of DuPage Institutional Profile Among the state's public colleges and universities, College of DuPage, with more than 28,000 students, is the second largest provider of undergraduate education in the State of Illinois, after University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
More than 25 percent of all District 502 high school graduates attend College of DuPage during their college career.
Each semester, around 28,000 students attend College of DuPage.
The Glen Ellyn campus covers 273 acres and has eleven major buildings. The Glen Ellyn campus is currently undergoing renovation and expansion through the Facilities Master Plan, which has an anticipated completion date of 2014.
College of DuPage has moved from a traditional model of accreditation to the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), a quality-based, continuous improvement model of accreditation through The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). This model is based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program and incorporates a review process designed to deliver clear, concrete and efficient feedback to participating institutions.
College of DuPage offers more than 90 certificates programs and degrees for today’s occupational and technical careers, and nine associate’s degrees in 59 occupational and 45 transfer pre-baccalaureate programs.
Roughly 20 percent of students attending COD already possess a bachelor's degree or higher.
The College of DuPage Library maintains a collection of 245,800 books, 285,000 microfiche, 29,500 video recordings (VHS and DVD), 20,700 sound recordings (CDs), 527 current periodical subscriptions (7,900 bound periodical back files), and 18 newspapers.
There are more than 50 student clubs and organizations on campus.
College of DuPage is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (Member, North Central Association) and Academic Quality Improvement Program Participant.
Things to Know About ACT Compass® What Is ACT Compass?
ACT Compass is an untimed, computerized test that helps your college evaluate your skills and place you into appropriate courses. ACT Compass offers tests in reading, writing, math, writing essay, and English as a Second Language (ESL). You will receive your ACT Compass test results immediately upon completion of testing, and your score report will include placement messages informing you what courses you should take and how to register.
How Are ACT Compass Scores Used?
ACT Compass is not used like a traditional test. There is generally no "passing score." Rather, ACT Compass scores indicate areas in which you are strong and areas in which you may need help. Thus, ACT Compass can identify problems in major subject areas before they disrupt your educational progress, giving you the opportunity to prepare more effectively for needed courses. You and your institution can use scores from ACT Compass tests to prepare a course of study that will be appropriate, relevant, and meaningful for you.
How Can I Arrange to Take the ACT Compass Tests?
Most institutions give ACT Compass during orientation to incoming freshmen who have already applied and been admitted to the school. Some institutions may require you to take one or more of the ACT Compass tests before enrolling in a particular program or course. Talk to your advisor, counselor, or Office of Student Services to determine the requirements and recommendations of your institution.
College of DuPage COMPASS Placement Testing Tests in the area of reading, writing, math, writing essay and English as a Second Language are given to students to determine the appropriate course placement and satisfy course prerequisites.
Scores from COMPASS placement tests are used to prepare a course of study that will be relevant and meaningful for students as they work toward successful completion of their educational goals,.
Workshops are offered to aid in preparing for the Reading, Writing and Writing essay tests.