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Specialized Area of Higher Education

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Specialized Area of Higher Education

In order to meet local workforce needs and expand degree opportunities, some states began allowing community colleges, or two-year institutions, to offer bachelor’s degree programs. Since its conception more than two decades ago, its popularity has grown: more than 90 two-year colleges are offering 900 baccalaureate programs in 19 states (Povich, 2018). The opportunity on surface level appears favorable. However, it is not without controversy. By understanding the arguments both for and against this issue, states can better form policies that will support the needs of their communities and people.History of Community Colleges in America

In the late-19th century, America found itself with a strong postsecondary educational system. Quality institutions, such as the University of Chicago and Penn State, were doing well; the Morrill Act had expanded collegiate opportunities to more people, including women and minorities, laid the groundwork for today’s university system, and connected professional education to bachelor’s degrees (Thelan, 2011). However, this prosperous time of the Gilded Age cast an elitist viewpoint on the four-year quality institutions (History.com Editors, 2018).

According to Trainor (2015), universities were unable to reach their true potential, due to their need to teach a general education to students in their first two years of college. Using the German system of higher education as a model, advocates such as University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper presented an encompassing junior college system to the public. Public concerns surrounding this new type of instruction included access and affordability—the plan called for junior colleges to be built in small towns, with tuition that was affordable to the average community member (Trainor, 2015). In 1892, Harper divided the University of Chicago into a junior college and senior college and introduced the associate’s degree for graduates of the former school (Drury, 2003).

Growth of the new junior college system was slow. However, several factors influenced its expansion during the early decades of the twentieth century. There was a need for trained workers, due to the expansion of industries in the country; a social equality movement was beginning, as was the idea that college should be accessible to everyone; and there was a growing sense of community pride and involvement, which was establishing settled communities outside of major cities (Drury, 2003). The founding of the American Association of Junior Colleges (known today as a the American Association of Community Colleges, or AACC) brought an expansion of the mission of the junior college; no longer would they only focus on academically preparing students to transfer to a university through completion of the associate’s degree—they would also offer vocational training opportunities.

Community colleges have seen growth during trying times in the United States, specifically during times of war and recession. In the 1970s, as enrollment tripled from 1.6 million to 4.5 million students, the focus was heavily on vocational programs, to support the local workforce needs (Drury, 2003). Ma and Baum (2016) found that 42% of all undergraduate students enrolled in college in 2014 were attending a two-year institution. Further, minority enrollment in a two-year institution, specifically a public school, is much higher than that of a four-year institution, with 22% of Hispanic undergraduates enrolled in a public community college, compared to 13% in a four-year institution, and 14% and 11% for black students enrolled in each type of school, respectively.

According to the AACC, “community colleges provide access to, and opportunity for, education through courses that serve as the foundation for a career, a new life, or a new perspective. The belief in democratizing education by maintaining opportunity is paramount to the continuance of an educated citizenry” (AACC, 2010). Offering bachelor’s degrees programs at two-year institutions would appear to support this mission; however, not all constituents are supportive of this opportunity.

Support for Bachelor’s Programs on Two-Year CampusesMeeting Local Workforce Needs

Two-year institutions have historically been malleable towards meeting the needs of the local workforce and community. Because its mission involves serving the community in which it resides, close communication between local companies and the institution ensure that trends within the workforce are analyzed and degree programs are being offered that will provide specialized individuals to satisfy the anticipated job openings (Neuhard, 2017). Fulton (2015) found the process for implementing or adapting a bachelor’s program within the community college sector to be much simpler than that for a four-year institution, allowing for quick adaptation to community changes. Further, the needs of the community tend to focus on applied sciences, business, education, and technical fields, which a nearby four-year institution may not support degrees in these areas.

Increased Access to Nontraditional Students

Further supporting the mission of increasing access to community colleges, offering bachelor’s programs increases degree obtainment by the nontraditional student, which is defined as students over the age of 25, working full-time, or having dependent children to care for (Holcombe, 2008). The low costs associated with attendance, as well as the convenience of location and flexibility of coursework, can be inviting for students by reducing barriers which can be deterrents from completion (Fulton, 2015; Povich, 2018).

Arguments against Bachelor’s Programs on Two-Year CampusesExpanded Mission

Proponents of offering bachelor’s programs on community college campuses argue that it does not align with the original mission of the two-year college. Further, as bachelor’s programs typically have requirements placed on them for entrance, they no longer support the open access policy that a community college proudly boasts (Fulton, 2015). Unnecessary Competition for Universities In theory, a two-year institution’s and four-year institution’s program offerings shouldn’t compete with each other. However, this is not always the case; the bachelor’s programs are often similar between sister campuses, or two-year and four-year campuses in the same region, causing institutions to compete for students, funding, and instructor (Fulton, 2015; Povich, 2018). With state funding to institutions drastically lower today than ever before—23% lower than before the recent Recession—opponents argue that “mission creep”, or competion among the types of institutions causes much harm to everyone (Fulton, 2015; Kramer, 2016).

Quality over Quantity

Finally, opponents to the bachelor’s programs on community college campuses argue that the degrees conferred will not equate to that of a simlar program from a univeristy. Outdated equipment and technology, lower rigor, and an easier proposal/implementation process for the degree at a community college could potentially hurt the field of study, and hinder the students’ abilities to obtain employment upon graduation.Why Now?

With the original mission community college mission having served communities in the United States for the last century, and the arguments against the offering of bachelor’s programs being strong, the question regarding the need for such arises. Research shows that they have gained popularity for several reasons, including the ease of transferability of credits, meeting the specific needs of a community and not of a broader profession, and the need to provide access to a degree higher than an associate’s degree for the nontraditional student (Chen, 2018).

Ease of Credit Transfer

Complete College America (2011) reported that students who earn their associate’s degree at a two-year institution and then transfer to a university take an average of 29 extra credits over the required 60 credits, to meet prerequisite requirements for their intended program of study. Further, Horn and Skomsvold (2011) found that 80% of students enrolled in a community college indicated that they intended to transfer to a university and complete a bachelor’s degree, but only 15% actually continue to a four-year institution and complete the degree within six years (Shapiro, 2012). Jenkins and Fink (2016) found that minority students had an even lower completion rate when transferring from a two-year institution. By allowing a student to remain at the community college and complete the bachelor’s program, proper advisement as to course and degree prerequisites and requirements can be provided to a student from the time of the declaration of program of study.

This will theoretically decrease the elicit costs to a student, in terms of excess tuition and textbooks paid, as well as implicit costs, such as time lost taking unnecessary classes (Kramer, Week 1: Important concepts in the study of economics, fiance, and budgeting [PowerPoint slide], 2016).Further, the hassle of transferring the associate’s degree credits is minimal. Floyd and Skolnick (2005) argued that four-year institutions have never relinquished control over the first two years of a four-year degree, and therefore still view themselves as the gatekeeper, deciding which credits can be accepted from a community college and which should be discarded, leading to the excess of credits taken on the community college. Povich (2018) reported this battle as an academic “turf war”, where universities aren’t ready to relinquish power.

Meeting the Needs of the Community

Bachelor’s programs on the two-year campus are a continuation of their own associate’s program offerings that were created around local needs, allowing for students to complete the four-year degree and immediately impact the local workplace (Chen, 2018). Often, university programs are structured to allow for continuance to a graduate degree or allow for employment of a graduate in the field of study outside of the local community. This is an area where bachelor’s programs at the community college can have a major impact—they can be designed around the specific needs that local workforce professionals designate, whether current or anticipated (V. Fuentes, personal communication, August 31, 2018).

Providing Greater Access to Bachelor’s Degrees

The U.S. Department of Labor projects a job growth of .7% annually until 2026, an increase over the .5% growth seen each year between 2006 and 2016 (2017). Within the labor force during this time, there will be a growing number of current employees retiring, resulting in a greater overall number of open positions for skilled employees. Floyd and Walker (2009) predicted that the majority of growth would occur in the areas of management, transportation, business, finance, access to which will require, at a minimum, an associate’s degree, but a bachelor’s degree will help ensure promotion and increases in salary (p.96).

Because of its affordability, flexibility in course schedules, and convenience of location for its students, the community college has the potential to increase access to a bachelor’s degree for nontraditional students. Completion of a bachelor’s degree at a community college rather than a university has the potential to save a student $10,000 in tuition and living expenses (Povich, 2018). Some states, such as Florida, have created financial aid programs to assist students in paying for their bachelor’s programs at a two-year institution (FLDOE, 2014).

Principles of Implementation

When beginning the consideration of offering baccalaureate programs in the community college sector, there should be conversations held by appropriate stakeholders in order to address several principles of successful implementation in the areas of program approval process and evaluation and implications (both cost and capacity) (Fulton, 2015; Neuhard, 2017; Russell, 2010;).

Program Approval Process and Evalaution·

What are the reasons for considering offering bachelor’s programs at the community college, and how would it support its mission? What data demonstrates a need?· Could the reasons be resolved with local workforce partnerships, agreements with the regional university, or a restructuring of the current associate’s degree offerings?· In what why will implementing this impact the regional university?· How will an institution prove local workforce need?· What does the approval process (at both the institional level and state level) consist of? Implications (Cost and Capacity)· What are the short-term and long-term costs associated with implementation? · How will an institution demonstrate capacity (building, resources, faculty and staff) to offer the program?· Can an institution’s budget support a new program offering?· How will success be defined?

Response to Baccalaureate Offerings in Community Colleges

Offering baccalaureate programs on a community college campus has the potential to increase degree options for its students. However, the consideration of the above implications and variables should be thorough before program implementation. It is imperative that it will benefit the community college, workforce, and most importantly, the students, without harming the relationship between these constituents and the local university. Annual evaluations of program offerings will ensure they are meeting the goals set forth for them and remain cost effective for the institution (V. Fuentes, personal communication, August 31, 2018).

Specialized Area of Higher Education

In order to meet local workforce needs and expand degree opportunities, some states began allowing community colleges, or two-year institutions, to offer bachelor’s degree programs. Since its conception more than two decades ago, its popularity has grown: more than 90 two-year colleges are offering 900 baccalaureate programs in 19 states (Povich, 2018). The opportunity on surface level appears favorable. However, it is not without controversy. By understanding the arguments both for and against this issue, states can better form policies that will support the needs of their communities and people.History of Community Colleges in America

In the late-19th century, America found itself with a strong postsecondary educational system. Quality institutions, such as the University of Chicago and Penn State, were doing well; the Morrill Act had expanded collegiate opportunities to more people, including women and minorities, laid the groundwork for today’s university system, and connected professional education to bachelor’s degrees (Thelan, 2011). However, this prosperous time of the Gilded Age cast an elitist viewpoint on the four-year quality institutions (History.com Editors, 2018).

According to Trainor (2015), universities were unable to reach their true potential, due to their need to teach a general education to students in their first two years of college. Using the German system of higher education as a model, advocates such as University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper presented an encompassing junior college system to the public. Public concerns surrounding this new type of instruction included access and affordability—the plan called for junior colleges to be built in small towns, with tuition that was affordable to the average community member (Trainor, 2015). In 1892, Harper divided the University of Chicago into a junior college and senior college and introduced the associate’s degree for graduates of the former school (Drury, 2003).

Growth of the new junior college system was slow. However, several factors influenced its expansion during the early decades of the twentieth century. There was a need for trained workers, due to the expansion of industries in the country; a social equality movement was beginning, as was the idea that college should be accessible to everyone; and there was a growing sense of community pride and involvement, which was establishing settled communities outside of major cities (Drury, 2003). The founding of the American Association of Junior Colleges (known today as a the American Association of Community Colleges, or AACC) brought an expansion of the mission of the junior college; no longer would they only focus on academically preparing students to transfer to a university through completion of the associate’s degree—they would also offer vocational training opportunities.

Community colleges have seen growth during trying times in the United States, specifically during times of war and recession. In the 1970s, as enrollment tripled from 1.6 million to 4.5 million students, the focus was heavily on vocational programs, to support the local workforce needs (Drury, 2003). Ma and Baum (2016) found that 42% of all undergraduate students enrolled in college in 2014 were attending a two-year institution. Further, minority enrollment in a two-year institution, specifically a public school, is much higher than that of a four-year institution, with 22% of Hispanic undergraduates enrolled in a public community college, compared to 13% in a four-year institution, and 14% and 11% for black students enrolled in each type of school, respectively.

According to the AACC, “community colleges provide access to, and opportunity for, education through courses that serve as the foundation for a career, a new life, or a new perspective. The belief in democratizing education by maintaining opportunity is paramount to the continuance of an educated citizenry” (AACC, 2010). Offering bachelor’s degrees programs at two-year institutions would appear to support this mission; however, not all constituents are supportive of this opportunity.

Support for Bachelor’s Programs on Two-Year CampusesMeeting Local Workforce Needs

Two-year institutions have historically been malleable towards meeting the needs of the local workforce and community. Because its mission involves serving the community in which it resides, close communication between local companies and the institution ensure that trends within the workforce are analyzed and degree programs are being offered that will provide specialized individuals to satisfy the anticipated job openings (Neuhard, 2017). Fulton (2015) found the process for implementing or adapting a bachelor’s program within the community college sector to be much simpler than that for a four-year institution, allowing for quick adaptation to community changes. Further, the needs of the community tend to focus on applied sciences, business, education, and technical fields, which a nearby four-year institution may not support degrees in these areas.

Increased Access to Nontraditional Students

Further supporting the mission of increasing access to community colleges, offering bachelor’s programs increases degree obtainment by the nontraditional student, which is defined as students over the age of 25, working full-time, or having dependent children to care for (Holcombe, 2008). The low costs associated with attendance, as well as the convenience of location and flexibility of coursework, can be inviting for students by reducing barriers which can be deterrents from completion (Fulton, 2015; Povich, 2018).

Arguments against Bachelor’s Programs on Two-Year CampusesExpanded Mission

Proponents of offering bachelor’s programs on community college campuses argue that it does not align with the original mission of the two-year college. Further, as bachelor’s programs typically have requirements placed on them for entrance, they no longer support the open access policy that a community college proudly boasts (Fulton, 2015). Unnecessary Competition for Universities In theory, a two-year institution’s and four-year institution’s program offerings shouldn’t compete with each other. However, this is not always the case; the bachelor’s programs are often similar between sister campuses, or two-year and four-year campuses in the same region, causing institutions to compete for students, funding, and instructor (Fulton, 2015; Povich, 2018). With state funding to institutions drastically lower today than ever before—23% lower than before the recent Recession—opponents argue that “mission creep”, or competion among the types of institutions causes much harm to everyone (Fulton, 2015; Kramer, 2016).

Quality over Quantity

Finally, opponents to the bachelor’s programs on community college campuses argue that the degrees conferred will not equate to that of a simlar program from a univeristy. Outdated equipment and technology, lower rigor, and an easier proposal/implementation process for the degree at a community college could potentially hurt the field of study, and hinder the students’ abilities to obtain employment upon graduation.Why Now?

With the original mission community college mission having served communities in the United States for the last century, and the arguments against the offering of bachelor’s programs being strong, the question regarding the need for such arises. Research shows that they have gained popularity for several reasons, including the ease of transferability of credits, meeting the specific needs of a community and not of a broader profession, and the need to provide access to a degree higher than an associate’s degree for the nontraditional student (Chen, 2018).

Ease of Credit Transfer

Complete College America (2011) reported that students who earn their associate’s degree at a two-year institution and then transfer to a university take an average of 29 extra credits over the required 60 credits, to meet prerequisite requirements for their intended program of study. Further, Horn and Skomsvold (2011) found that 80% of students enrolled in a community college indicated that they intended to transfer to a university and complete a bachelor’s degree, but only 15% actually continue to a four-year institution and complete the degree within six years (Shapiro, 2012). Jenkins and Fink (2016) found that minority students had an even lower completion rate when transferring from a two-year institution. By allowing a student to remain at the community college and complete the bachelor’s program, proper advisement as to course and degree prerequisites and requirements can be provided to a student from the time of the declaration of program of study.

This will theoretically decrease the elicit costs to a student, in terms of excess tuition and textbooks paid, as well as implicit costs, such as time lost taking unnecessary classes (Kramer, Week 1: Important concepts in the study of economics, fiance, and budgeting [PowerPoint slide], 2016).Further, the hassle of transferring the associate’s degree credits is minimal. Floyd and Skolnick (2005) argued that four-year institutions have never relinquished control over the first two years of a four-year degree, and therefore still view themselves as the gatekeeper, deciding which credits can be accepted from a community college and which should be discarded, leading to the excess of credits taken on the community college. Povich (2018) reported this battle as an academic “turf war”, where universities aren’t ready to relinquish power.

Meeting the Needs of the Community

Bachelor’s programs on the two-year campus are a continuation of their own associate’s program offerings that were created around local needs, allowing for students to complete the four-year degree and immediately impact the local workplace (Chen, 2018). Often, university programs are structured to allow for continuance to a graduate degree or allow for employment of a graduate in the field of study outside of the local community. This is an area where bachelor’s programs at the community college can have a major impact—they can be designed around the specific needs that local workforce professionals designate, whether current or anticipated (V. Fuentes, personal communication, August 31, 2018).

Providing Greater Access to Bachelor’s Degrees

The U.S. Department of Labor projects a job growth of .7% annually until 2026, an increase over the .5% growth seen each year between 2006 and 2016 (2017). Within the labor force during this time, there will be a growing number of current employees retiring, resulting in a greater overall number of open positions for skilled employees. Floyd and Walker (2009) predicted that the majority of growth would occur in the areas of management, transportation, business, finance, access to which will require, at a minimum, an associate’s degree, but a bachelor’s degree will help ensure promotion and increases in salary (p.96).

Because of its affordability, flexibility in course schedules, and convenience of location for its students, the community college has the potential to increase access to a bachelor’s degree for nontraditional students. Completion of a bachelor’s degree at a community college rather than a university has the potential to save a student $10,000 in tuition and living expenses (Povich, 2018). Some states, such as Florida, have created financial aid programs to assist students in paying for their bachelor’s programs at a two-year institution (FLDOE, 2014).

Principles of Implementation

When beginning the consideration of offering baccalaureate programs in the community college sector, there should be conversations held by appropriate stakeholders in order to address several principles of successful implementation in the areas of program approval process and evaluation and implications (both cost and capacity) (Fulton, 2015; Neuhard, 2017; Russell, 2010;).

Program Approval Process and Evalaution·

What are the reasons for considering offering bachelor’s programs at the community college, and how would it support its mission? What data demonstrates a need?· Could the reasons be resolved with local workforce partnerships, agreements with the regional university, or a restructuring of the current associate’s degree offerings?· In what why will implementing this impact the regional university?· How will an institution prove local workforce need?· What does the approval process (at both the institional level and state level) consist of? Implications (Cost and Capacity)· What are the short-term and long-term costs associated with implementation? · How will an institution demonstrate capacity (building, resources, faculty and staff) to offer the program?· Can an institution’s budget support a new program offering?· How will success be defined?

Response to Baccalaureate Offerings in Community Colleges

Offering baccalaureate programs on a community college campus has the potential to increase degree options for its students. However, the consideration of the above implications and variables should be thorough before program implementation. It is imperative that it will benefit the community college, workforce, and most importantly, the students, without harming the relationship between these constituents and the local university. Annual evaluations of program offerings will ensure they are meeting the goals set forth for them and remain cost effective for the institution (V. Fuentes, personal communication, August 31, 2018).

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