Community Colleges

Overview

Community Colleges

A community college has a bit of a split personality. One side of the college is full of students trying to take classes at a less expensive rate before transferring to a four-year school to finish up a bachelor’s degree. The other side is full of students working on the latest manufacturing robots, learning to cook or brushing up on their welding skills in a short time frame.

A community college has a bit of a split personality. One side of the college is full of students trying to take classes at a less expensive rate before transferring to a four-year school to finish up a bachelor’s degree. The other side is full of students working on the latest manufacturing robots, learning to cook or brushing up on their welding skills in a short time frame.

According to the American College Promise Act, community colleges are public colleges that primarily award two-year degrees. These institutions are known for accessibility — ease of admissions and affordability — and service to the community.

With more than 1,000 community colleges across the U.S. enrolling over 2 million students who comprise 46 percent of all undergraduates as of 2021 — often students older than traditional age and attending part-time — these colleges play a vital role in the overall higher education system. Located everywhere from urban centers to rural highways next to cornfields, the open access the community colleges provide means these schools are often the only chance for post-secondary education lots of people have. Community colleges not only enroll recent high school graduates, but are also among the most important paths to the American Dream since they provide second, third and fourth chances to people who may have dropped out of school, decided to switch careers or taken another route to higher education. 

While some students head directly from high school to a community college, that doesn’t describe the majority. At most community colleges, the majority of students are part-time and older. Data from the American Association of Community Colleges shows in 2021, 65 percent of community college students were part-time and the average age was 28.

Reporters covering the community college beat will find a landscape ripe with topics, including the following, among others:

  • Affordability: Community colleges were supposed to provide open access to the community. But as rising tuition has threatened that goal, a movement toward free community college has developed. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce provides a good primer on free college
  • Economic development: Community colleges are especially connected to your community’s economy. They provide training and other support for local businesses, and their enrollment rises and falls typically in contrast to the local unemployment rate, although that trend didn’t hold up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Quality: Nationally, just 30 percent of community college students graduate from what are supposed to be two-year programs within four years. And only about 30 percent of freshmen who start with a plan of transferring to a four-year school do so within six years. Reporters need to be careful in reporting these numbers since, for example, some students who successfully transfer out are counted as non-completers. But the high dropout rates raise serious questions about the quality of education and counseling services that community colleges provide. What is your college doing right? Or wrong? What impact are, say, budget cuts having on class sizes or the kinds of instructors or counselors who directly serve the students? Investigating the reasons behind a college’s successes (or failures) is an important watchdog journalism service. 

Updated June 2021.

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Data/Research: Community Colleges

Like everything else in higher education, community colleges are awash in data and studies. It can quickly overwhelm you, especially when you’re on deadline.

Here are a few places to start looking.

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History and Background: Community Colleges

They’ve been known as community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, two-year colleges, or city colleges. Some are dropping any modifier and just naming themselves colleges.

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Community Colleges in Popular Culture

The numbers make your head swim. Take a break and enjoy watching some depictions of community colleges.

“Last Chance U”: The Netflix documentary series has followed football and basketball teams at community colleges. It shows the academic and athletic struggles these athletes go through, with focus on the tough roads they’ve taken.

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Story Ideas: Community Colleges

Community colleges are often tied closer to communities, and offer more access to post-K-12 education, than do four-year schools, making them rich areas for reporters to mine for stories. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Academic Freedom: The Basics

What is academic freedom?

Generally, it’s the concept that professors, in the pursuit of knowledge, should be free to take their inquiries wherever they deem necessary without fearing retaliation, and that the success and health of the academy rests on that freedom.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

8 Questions to Ask About College Enrollment Numbers
COVID-19 sparked enrollment declines at universities, especially among low-income students.

As students and higher learning institutions prepare for the fall semester, lagging vaccination rates and the rise of the delta variant present unanticipated challenges.

For reporters looking to tell stories about how the ongoing public health crisis is affecting higher education access, enrollment numbers are a good place to start.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

With Schools Reopening Full-Time, What Pandemic-Driven Changes Will Last?
Get 7 story ideas to help you cover K-12 and higher education shifts that may have staying power.

Despite the many hardships the pandemic caused, the COVID-19 disruption also sparked – or in some cases accelerated – changes to K-12 and higher education that leaders say should stick.

The speakers pointed to the power of flexibility, the need to focus energy and resources that will serve the “whole student,” and how increased outreach and new communication strategies with students and families could be transformative during a plenary at the Education Writers Association’s 2021 National Seminar. 

How Is (or Isn’t) Job Training Working During the Pandemic?
Multimedia

How Is (or Isn’t) Job Training Working During the Pandemic?

How are hands-on job training programs being affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

What kind of virtual job training works?

Students and teachers described what is, and isn’t, helping students get practical job skills during a December 12 session at the Education Writers Association’s “Pathways to Good Jobs: Higher Ed’s Changing Role in Social Mobility” seminar. 

The participants were: 

Race, Racism and Career Pathways
Multimedia

Race, Racism and Career Pathways

What are the links between segregation among and within educational institutions and in the job market? Are “certificates” turning into second-class educational credentials?

Journalists learned about data on segregation at college campuses as well as efforts to break down racial barriers during a December 11 session at the Education Writers Association’s “Pathways to Good Jobs: Higher Ed’s Changing Role in Upward Mobility” seminar. 

How Can We Widen the Pathway to the Middle Class?
Webinar

How Can We Widen the Pathway to the Middle Class?
Webinar offers background on "middle skills" research and training programs.

One of the most important goals of America’s education system is to launch citizens into “middle class” jobs that pay enough to provide economic security. But the number of those jobs have been shrinking, and the skills needed to land the remaining middle class jobs are changing faster than many traditional educational or training programs have been able to match.

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74th EWA National Seminar
Virtual, May 2-5, 2021

The Education Writers Association’s 74th National Seminar will focus on the theme of “Now What? Reporting on Education Amid Uncertainty.” Four afternoons of conversations, training and presentations will give attendees deeper understanding of these crises, as well as tools, skills and context to help them better serve their communities — and advance their careers. 

To be held May 2-5, 2021, the seminar will feature education newsmakers, including leaders, policy makers, researchers, practitioners and journalists. And it will offer practical data and other skills training. 

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73rd EWA National Seminar

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. 

This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: Writing About Colleges’ Finances Amid Coronavirus

This post was originally published on Journalist’s Resource. It has been republished here with permission of the author. 

Colleges across the country face deep financial losses after the coronavirus forced school officials to shutter campuses and cancel events. Administrators worry their money troubles will only get worse if enrollment, government funding and other sources of revenue continue to fall amid a likely recession.

EWA Radio

When College Students Aren’t College-Ready
Thousands of students struggle at Chicago’s two-year colleges. Is an overhaul of developmental ed. programs enough to help?
(EWA Radio: Episode 231)

In Chicago, thousands of students are earning high school diplomas but showing up at the city’s two-year colleges unprepared for the next step in their academic journeys. In a new project, Kate McGee of WBEZ looked at efforts to buck that trend, including an innovative program developed not by outside experts but the system’s own faculty.  Along the way, she explored a number of questions: Do students benefit more from remedial classes that re-teach them material they were supposed to master in high school, or from being placed directly into college classes with additional support like tutoring

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Super Tuesday: The Education Angles
What's at stake for public education in the 2020 election?

A flurry of education-related conversation surfaced at the most recent Democratic presidential debate on Feb. 25, as candidates exchanged jabs and defended their positions on charter schools, student loan debt, and setting up young people for meaningful careers.

The 10th debate came at a pivotal moment, just days before voters in 14 states will cast their ballots on Super Tuesday (March 3). With education taking a back seat in prior debates, the rapid-fire discussion caught the attention of education journalists and pundits.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Soft Skills Training Teaches Electricians to Fix Fuses, Not Blow Them
Community colleges award budding trades workers badges in empathy

Sure, a plumber should be able to stop a leak or fix a toilet. Those job skills are essential, and easily measured.

But what about the rest of the equation — the people skills customers also want? How does an employer really know if an applicant has what it takes? Can’t there be a test or something?

Seminar

Education and the American Dream: Pathways From High School to College and Careers
Northwestern University • November 14-15, 2019

What will it take to make the U.S. education system a more powerful engine for economic mobility? What are the obstacles, especially for low-income families and students of color?

At this journalists-only seminar on Nov. 14-15 in Chicago, we will explore these and other questions, with a special focus on emerging efforts to create stronger pathways from high school to college and promising careers.

EWA Radio

The Ugly Side of Beauty Schools
Students of for-profit career programs struggle with high loan debt, low paying jobs
(EWA Radio: Episode 196)

In this replay of a recent episode of EWA Radio, Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report discuss their investigation into private cosmetology schools in Iowa that are reaping big profits at the expense of their students.  Students are spending upward of $20,000 to earn a cosmetology certificate—comparable to the cost of two associates’ degrees at a community college.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Tapping Education Researchers Pays Off
Reporters See Value in Teaming Up With Experts to Examine Data

From test scores to graduation rates, the education system is a world of numbers that can show how well policies and practices are serving students – if you know how to analyze the data.

“When there’s a data session here and you have to pick which category you’re in, I would be in the beginner category,” said Adam Tamburin, a higher education reporter for The Tennessean, during a panel at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar in Baltimore.

Enter the trained scientists.

EWA Radio

Can a State Help More Residents Finish College?
With 75 percent of the state’s jobs requiring postsecondary credentials, Colorado looks to boost college and career training
(EWA Radio: Episode 213)

Like many states, Colorado has set an ambitious goal for boosting the number of citizens with advanced degrees and credentials, all with an eye toward filling high-need jobs in areas like health care and manufacturing. In a five-part series, EWA Reporting Fellow Stephanie Daniel of KUNC (Northern Colorado Community Radio) looks at how the Rocky Mountain state is trying to do that:

Stories You’re Missing on Transfer Students
Webinar

Stories You’re Missing on Transfer Students

More than 3.7 million college students—accounting for more than a third of the nation’s undergraduate student body—are expected to transfer this year. As the end of the semester approaches, many students will be facing spring deadlines to make the jump from campus to campus.

This EWA webinar offers the opportunity to learn about one of the most under-covered—but important and timely—aspects of college admissions.

EWA Radio

How Beauty School Students Get ‘Tangled Up in Debt’
For-profit colleges promise more than they deliver
(EWA Radio: Episode 196)

In Iowa, private cosmetology schools are reaping big profits at the expense of their students. That’s the key takeaway from a new investigation by reporters Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report. Students are spending upward of $20,000 to earn a cosmetology certificate—comparable to the cost of two associates’ degrees at a community college. Additionally, Iowa’s requirement for 2,100 hours of training, significantly higher than many other states, means students have to wait longer to start their full-time careers. Additionally, they’re often required to work at their school’s salon while taking classes, and bring in revenue by selling services and products. How did Butrymowicz and Kolodner crunch the national and local numbers on outcomes for these for-profit colleges? Who’s holding such programs accountable? And what advice do they have for local reporters covering career certification programs in their own communities?

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

EWA Radio

Higher Ed ‘Deserts’: Who Lives in Them, and Why it Matters
For millions of would-be college students, convenient and affordable degree programs are out of reach
(EWA Radio: Episode 179)

About seven in 10 undergraduates are “nontraditional” students, according to the U.S. Department of Education, meaning they delayed starting college, have a job or children, or are attending part-time. Meanwhile,, millions of would-be college students live in what some have dubbed higher ed “deserts” without easy or affordable access to postsecondary education.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Much Does College Really Cost?
Experts offer advice on reliable pricing data sources

Surveys indicate that the costs of college are now bigger worries for most applicants and families than the traditional anxieties about getting in.

It’s not just because of the shockingly high prices, such as the private colleges sporting sticker prices (tuition, room, board, books and miscellaneous expenses) north of $70,000 a year. Families are obsessed with costs in part because of  the surprising complexity and opacity of college prices.

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Higher Education Seminar Fall 2018
Las Vegas • UNLV • September 24-25, 2018

The Education Writers Association will hold its 2018 Higher Education Seminar Sept. 24-25 on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The theme of this year’s intensive training event for journalists will be “Navigating Rapid Change.” This journalist-only event will offer two days of high-impact learning opportunities. The seminar will focus on how both postsecondary education and journalism are adjusting to an increasingly divisive political environment, the decline of traditional revenue sources, and continuing technological innovations that are upending much of the economy.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Top Higher Ed Stories for the 2018-19 Academic Year
Politics is driving some of the hottest news stories on college campuses.

Some of the most pressing higher education stories for the next academic year will spring from the intersection of education and politics, predicts Scott Jaschik, the editor of Inside Higher Ed.

Jaschik reprised his always-popular rundown of the top higher education story ideas during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar in May.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanic, Latino, Latinx: How to Cover the Fastest-Growing Student Group

Hispanic students, who make up the second largest racial demographic in schools today, are entering college in record numbers. But they are also dropping out of college at a far higher rate than white students. That reality has important implications for our educational and economic systems and the reporters who cover them, according to a group of researchers and experts gathered at the 2018 Education Writers Association National Seminar.

image of Miami, Fla.
Seminar

Beyond the Numbers: Getting the Story on Latino Education
The Fifth Annual EWA Conference for Spanish-Language Media

The Education Writers Association is pleased to partner with NAHJ to offer a 1½-day institute on covering education at the NAHJ National Conference in Miami. The July 20-21 education coverage bootcamp, which will be held in Spanish,  will feature some of the most important and influential researchers and educational leaders in the field of Latino education. They will help journalists gain a better understanding of the education issues affecting Latino students in the U.S., such as the impacts of school choice, teacher demographics, and student loans. You’ll also get training on data sources that can help you buttress or generate  education stories.

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic
Seminar

71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Georgia State Dramatically Changed Its Graduation Rate (and How Other Universities Can, Too)

In 2006, Georgia State University had a problem. The graduation rate was an abysmal 41 percent. And in many cases, the dropouts were seniors who just needed a few credits more to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Unlike many other colleges struggling with high dropout rates, Georgia State took (in many cases, expensive) actions that seem to have actually worked. Today, 53 percent of their freshmen graduate within six years.

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Higher Ed 2017: Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

From heated debates over free speech to the Trump administration’s threats to deport undocumented students, these are tense times on college campuses. For reporters who cover higher education, questions abound and important stories need to be told. 

On Oct. 2-3, EWA will bring together journalists at Georgia State University in Atlanta to explore pressing issues in education after high school. (Here’s the preliminary agenda.) At this journalist-only seminar you will hear:

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanics Now Nearly One-Quarter of U.S. Students, Data Reveal

New U.S. Census data show a dramatic increase in the number of Hispanics attending school, reaching nearly 18 million in 2016. The figure — which covers education at all levels — is double the total 20 years earlier.

“Hispanic students now make up 22.7 percent of all people enrolled in school,” said Kurt Bauman, the chief of Census Bureau’s Education and Social Stratification Branch, in a statement.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NSF Grant Fuels Efforts to Boost Latinos in STEM Fields

As part of an effort to boost the number of Latinos graduating with degrees in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — four universities will use a new federal grant to bring together experts closest to the issue to examine the challenges and brainstorm successful strategies.  

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of California at Irvine, the University of Arizona, the University of Houston and Nova Southeastern University in Florida each $100,000 to host the conferences.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Top 10 Higher Ed Stories You Should Be Covering, 2017 Edition

Undergraduate enrollment is slated to increase by 14 percent between 2015 and 2026, but some liberal arts colleges may not see a boost in their number of students or have enough faculty to support the few who enroll.

Grinnell College in Iowa saw applications drop by more than 20 percent this year, Warren Wilson College in North Carolina is laying off faculty and Wisconsin’s Northland College is slashing faculty salaries, said Scott Jaschik, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Does Going to a Hispanic-Serving Institution Affect How Much Graduates Earn?

As the number of Hispanic students enrolled in college has increased so has the discussion of the roles of the institutions that are educating them. 

A large portion of Hispanic students are concentrated in a small number of colleges, which are called Hispanic-serving institutions or HSIs, in a few key states. By federal definition, these are two- and four-year colleges and universities that are accredited, grant degrees, and whose full-time-equivalent undergraduate enrollment is at least 25 percent Hispanic.

EWA Radio

Go West, Young Students: California’s Free Community College Boom
EWA Radio: Episode 114

Ashley Smith of Inside Higher Ed discusses why the Golden State is leading the nation in free community college initiatives. Currently, a quarter of all such programs nationally are located at California institutions. The growth is a mix of grassroots efforts by individual campuses, cities, and community organizations. At the same time, California’s Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a statewide effort to add even more free seats at two-year colleges.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Who Benefits from New York’s Free College Plan?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make tuition free year at New York’s public colleges and universities for students from families earning less than $125,000 is being touted as a shot across the progressive bow. As the new Congress and White House tout a conservative agenda, the governor is offering a playbook that states could use to capitalize on the liberal currents that crisscrossed the Democratic presidential primaries.

EWA Radio

The Chronicle of Higher Education Turns 50
EWA Radio: Episode 101

Liz McMillen, the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, looks back at a half-century of milestone stories, memorable headlines, and key moments on the national higher education beat, many of which continue to echo today. Among them: equity and diversity, classroom technology, and free speech on campus. She discusses the Chronicle’s commitment to narrative journalism, lessons to be learned by looking back, and what’s ahead for the nation’s colleges and universities.

EWA Radio

Why A Trump Presidency Has Higher Ed on Edge
EWA Radio: Episode 98

Benjamin Wermund of Politico discusses the uncertainties ahead for the nation’s colleges and universities following the presidential election. While Donald Trump has offered few specifics on education policy, his surrogates suggest he will reverse course on many initiatives put in place under President Obama. That could have a significant impact on areas like Title IX enforcement, federal funding for research, and more. Higher education leaders are also facing a surge in reports of hate crimes and harassment on campuses that were already struggling with issues of free speech and diversity.

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Doing More With Higher Ed Data: From Policy to Newsrooms
Philadelphia • February 2–3, 2017

With colleges and universities under increased pressure to ensure that more students earn degrees without amassing mountains of debt, journalists are at the forefront in examining how these institutions  measure up. But there’s one major obstacle that both colleges and reporters share when it comes to making sense of how well these schools are meeting their goals: insufficient data.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Programs Providing ‘Excelencia’ in Latino Education

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“ 

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.

Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College

By Shenandoah University Office of Marketing and Communications (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Completion Failures Must Be Tackled in Tandem With Costs, Report Says

Two numbers haunt the college landscape: $1.3 trillion and 40 percent.

The first is the ever-increasing debt Americans are shouldering to pay off the cost of a degree. But a growing chorus of experts believes that extraordinary sum obscures another crisis: For many, those debts wouldn’t be as devastating had they earned a degree. But only 40 percent of Americans complete a bachelor’s degree in four years.

The upshot is that millions of Americans earning meager wages are on the hook for thousands of dollars with almost nothing to show for it.

By Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Understanding the Student Loan-Debt Picture

“There’s a lot of talk about the student debt crisis and I’m going to tell you that I don’t think there really is a student debt crisis,” said Debbie Cochrane, vice president at The Institute for College Access and Success. “What there are are multiple student debt crises.”

Know the Score: Finding Stories in College Scorecard Data
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Know the Score: Finding Stories in College Scorecard Data

How many first-generation students does a college have? How much does the school charge students from families earning $30,000 versus more than $75,000? And how many students are repaying their student loan debt three years after college?

Pixabay/Karsten Paulick
EWA Radio

Same As It Ever Was: The Pitfalls of Remedial Education
EWA Radio: Episode 88

Millions of high school graduates show up for the first day of college academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed. And that’s where remedial (or “developmental”) education comes into play. Students don’t get academic credit for these classes even though they still cost them in time and money. And there’s another problem: being placed in even one remedial class as a freshman — particularly at a community college — can significantly reduce a student’s odds of ever completing a degree.

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley was named the California Community Colleges' first Latino chancellor this week. Source: Twitter @EloyOakley
Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Calif. Community College System Gets First Latino Boss

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors voted unanimously this week to appoint Eloy Ortiz Oakley as the system’s next chancellor. This decision marks the first time a Latino has been at the helm of the 113-college system, where Hispanic students make up 42 percent of the student population and represented nearly half of all new students last fall.

Jay Torres, 57, was killed in Garland, Texas, this week. He was an inaugural member of EWA's annual Spanish-language media convening and beloved by many as a respected journalist and photographer in the Forth Worth area. Source: Rebecca Aguilar (Used with permission)
Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Recent Tragedies Hit Home for EWA

It feels like we were just in Orlando at Valencia College, sharing a campus with seven students who lost their lives early Sunday morning in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. 

Flickr/Salvation Army USA West (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Higher Ed: Hunger on Campus

The stereotypes of the financially struggling college students are well-known. They live on ramen, share an apartment or house with several roommates, and work part-time for money to buy beer. They get summer jobs to cover college tuition and expenses. And they come from middle- and upper-class families, so if they do struggle sometimes to pay the bills, that scarcity is hip and cool.

Source: Flickr/ via Alan Light (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Latino Graduation Rates Highest at Selective Institutions

The more selective the institution, the higher the graduation rate for Latino students, a new study by Excelencia in Education shows. 

At selective colleges and universities — those that admit less than half of applicants — 68 percent of Latino students graduate and are more likely to do so on time. At other four-year institutions and two-year colleges, the Latino graduation rates are 47 and 17 percent, respectively. 

Flickr/Cat Branchman (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Psychology, Mentoring and Dollars: Innovations in Graduating More Students from College

College students enter their institutions excited about learning and eager to succeed. Yet many don’t.

Hurdles like the cost of attendance certainly exist, but researchers are also now starting to examine the effects psychological barriers such as social group dynamics, self-confidence and feelings of isolation have on college students’ success.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at EWA's National Seminar in Boston. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Progressives in Massachusetts Shortchange Poor Kids, Governor Says

Massachusetts has long been the poster child for education.

For years now it’s ranked at the top in the country for math and reading achievement, boasted impressive graduation rates and made a significant financial investments over the last few decades to get there.

It’s no slouch when it comes to higher education either. Massachusetts harbors some of the best colleges and universities in the world, and it’s joining a growing number of states looking to make college more affordable.

U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell spoke at EWA's 69th annual National Seminar in Boston. Source: U.S. Department of Education
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Obama Official: To Lower Cost of College, States Must Spend More

“The most expensive degree is the one you don’t get.” That’s Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell quoting former U.S. Ed Secretary Arne Duncan at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar on Monday. Mitchell’s talk focused on how to prevent such a costly slip.

(Flickr/The White House)
EWA Radio

Why President Obama Should Teach
EWA Radio: Episode 65

When President Obama leaves office in January, there will be no shortage of big-name corporations and Ivy League universities clamoring for his skills. But in a recent essay for The New Yorker Magazine, contributor Cinque Henderson — a former writer for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” — suggests President Obama consider teaching at a historically black college or university (HBCU), community college, or even an urban high school.

Seminar

Higher Ed 2016
September 16–17 • Tempe, Arizona

What new techniques and practices should higher education embrace to ensure that more students graduate? Join the Education Writers Association September 16–17 at Arizona State University to explore cutting-edge innovations that aim to address financial, academic, and social barriers. More on the seminar theme.

This annual seminar is one of the largest gatherings of journalists covering postsecondary education. Network with others covering this beat and step up your coverage for the upcoming academic year.

Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
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Hungry to Learn: Addressing Food & Housing Insecurity Among Undergraduates
The Association of Community College Trustees

According to a new survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 community colleges across the nation, half of all community college students are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity. Fully 20 percent are hungry and 13 percent are homeless. These numbers are startling and indicate the need for a multi-pronged, comprehensive set of institutional, state, and local policies to alleviate the barriers presented by poverty, so as to improve educational success.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announces the creation of Connecticut's first P-TECH high school, modeled after the IBM-backed school in Brooklyn, New York. (Source: Flickr/Dannel Malloy)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Saving on College by Doing Some of It in High School

Last week the White House announced a new higher education experiment that will direct federal grants to some high school students who want to enroll in college classes.

The plan is to start small, with the administration offering $20 million to help defray the college costs of up to 10,000 low-income high school students for the 2016-2017 academic year. The money will come from the overall Pell Grant pot, which is currently funded at more than $30 billion annually and used by 8 million students.

(Bigstock/michaeljung)
Webinar

Seven Challenges First-Generation College Students Face & How to Write About Them

While many first-generation students are excited and ambitious when they step on campus — eager to beat the odds and become the first in their families to earn a college degree — others struggle with guilt, fear and loneliness, sometimes even struggling to remember why they decided to attend college in the first place. And they grapple with these feelings while they also have to figure out how to apply for financial aid, register for classes, and manage the other necessities of undergraduate life knowing they can’t turn to their families for guidance based on experience.

Panelists Alicia Diaz, left, of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Kathleen Plinske, a Valencia College campus president, discussed the roles of Hispanic-serving institutions at EWA's 2015 Spanish-Language Media Convening. The discussion was moderator by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez or Southern California Public Radio. 
Source: Valencia College/ Don Burlinson
Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Their Roles in Higher Ed

In recent years, the United States has seen overall enrollment declines in the numbers of students seeking postsecondary degrees, but in a panel about Latinos in higher education at the Education Writers Association’s second annual Spanish-Language Media Convening, the executive director of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities reminded journalists of one area of growth: The number of Hispanic-serving institutions is on the rise and accelerating.

Source: Bigstock
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Community Colleges Are Helping Transfer Students

Students who transfer between colleges and universities on their path to achieve a college degree often encounter obstacles – barriers, like lost credits, that could keep them from finishing their degree altogether. At EWA’s recent seminar in Orlando focused on higher education, reporters got a lesson in the data on transfer students and heard from experts who are making the process of transferring and going on to earn degrees easier for students at their community colleges.

Letting students decide whether they need remedial courses is shortsighted, Valencia College President Sandy Shugart said. Valencia College/Don Burlinson
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Florida Colleges Face Life Without Remediation

Each year, hundreds of thousands of new college students arrive on campus unable to handle freshman level work and wind up in remedial classes. That’s a major frustration not only to the students but also to lawmakers who believe public dollars are being used twice for the same instruction – once at the K-12 level, then again in postsecondary financial aid.

Students of the culinary program at Valencia College in Orlando demonstrate their kitchen skills. (Source: Twitter/@GabrielleRusson)
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The New Effort to Link College to Careers

As tuitions swell and student loan debt climbs further, one aspect of higher education that has been overlooked is the recipe required to transform a college education into a set of skills that prepares students for the workspace.

As it turns out, neither colleges nor employers have a firm grasp on what flavor that special sauce should have, reporters learned at “The Way to Work: Covering the Path from College to Careers” – the Education Writers Association’s seminar on higher education held in Orlando Sep. 18-19.

Escaping the Ordinary: The Best Back-to-School Story Ideas
Webinar

Escaping the Ordinary: The Best Back-to-School Story Ideas
Back-to-School Webinar

For education reporters, coming up with fresh angles for back-to-school stories is an annual challenge. Two veteran education journalists—Steve Drummond (NPR) and Beth Hawkins (MinnPost)—share smart tips for digging deep, and keeping ahead of the curve on the latest trends. We discuss new ways of approaching the first day of school, ideas for unique profiles, strategies for data projects and how to make the most of your publication’s multimedia resources. 

Speakers

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Money Magazine’s College Rankings Examine How Much ‘Value’ Students Get

The folks at Money magazine are largely doing the work the White House sought to do but hasn’t: rate colleges and universities by the extra boost they give students in landing financially rewarding careers.

Released this week, Money’s rating system ranks more than 700 schools according to an in-house rubric for measuring how much value a college offers students given its price of attendance. 

EWA Radio

After Pushback, White House Yields on College Ratings
EWA Radio: Episode 28

After nearly two years of public debate, and vociferous pushback from the higher education community, the White House announced it is pulling back on plans to rate the nation’s colleges based on a complex matrix of performance measures and student outcomes. Paul Fain, news editor for Inside Higher Ed has been following this story closely since the beginning, and he helped break the news that the Obama administration was scrapping the most controversial parts of its original proposal.

He spoke with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about who’s surprised by the decision (hint: not a lot of people), and the role played by aggressive lobbying against the rating plan by much of the higher education community. Fain and Richmond also discussed college ratings and consumer tools already available, and how to answer parents and students who ask for advice on choosing a school.

Scott Jaschik, left, moderates EWA's National Seminar session on community colleges on April 21, 2015.
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can the Community College ‘Promise’ Be Fulfilled?

Nine million.

That’s how many students the White House believes will be able to attend a community college under the president’s proposed America’s College Promise program. During the session at EWA’s National Seminar held last month in Chicago, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said nine million students see college as unaffordable.

Source: Flickr/ COD Newsroom (CC BY 2.0)
Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanics More Optimistic Than Most About Higher Ed Access, Affordability

When asked in a recent poll whether education beyond high school is available and affordable to those who need it, Hispanic respondents were optimistic.

The results of a recent Gallup-Lumina Foundation poll reveal that while overall, Americans feel higher education is not affordable, the majority of Hispanics feel it is. And on the issue of access, Hispanics were also more confident than white and black survey-takers. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA Radio: What’s Next For No Child Left Behind?

EWA Radio recently spoke with several national reporters about what the president’s State of the Union address said (and also, what it didn’t say) about his plans for public schools. They also provided some thoughtful insights about what’s looming on the federal education policy landscape. 

Report

The Condition of Latinos in Education: 2015 Factbook
Excelencia in Education

Excelencia in Education

Excelencia in Education is committed to using data to inform public policy and institutional practice to achieve our mission of accelerating student success for Latinos in higher education. We know college success does not begin at the college gates. Every educational experience from early childhood to high school and into the workforce influences the potential for college success.

Report

What We Know About Transfer
Davis Jenkins and John Fink

This research overview reviews recent findings on transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions, including student transfer patterns, student outcomes, barriers to transfer, the economic benefits of transfer, and the potential benefits of vertical transfer for four-year colleges and universities. Overall, the returns to transfer are strong, and transfer offers a vital route to a bachelor’s degree for many underserved students.

Students at New York University work on a computer programming project. More interactive learning is expected to be a hot topic in the coming year on both the K-12 and higher education beats. (Flickr/Matylda Czarnecka)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

The 2015 Education Beat: Common Core, Testing, School Choice

There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months: 

Revamping No Child Left Behind

(Community) College Readiness
Multimedia

(Community) College Readiness
2014 Higher Ed Seminar

While high schools across the nation have increasingly turned their attention toward making their graduates “college and career ready,” many community colleges are pondering the best way to educate those adults who enroll underprepared. One approach that appears to be gaining momentum—in Connecticut, Florida and Texas, for example— is to eliminate developmental or remedial education offerings altogether, arguing that these costly courses deter students from earning degrees.

Jeffrey Beall/Flickr ( CC BY-SA 2.0)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Experts: Community College Results Weighed Down by Remediation

From politicians to policymakers, the argument goes that sustaining America’s competitive edge will rely largely on more students graduating college.

But while the nation has notched successes in sending more students to postsecondary institutions, the college dropout rate remains stubbornly high. One major reason for the attrition: Millions of high school graduates are academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed.

© PamelaJoeMcFarlane (Source: iStock)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Deciphering Student-Loan Default Rates

The federal government today released a snapshot of how well borrowers with federal student loans are repaying their debts, indicating that fewer Americans are defaulting on their college loans compared to past years, but that the figures still exceed pre-recession levels.

Report

At What Cost? How Community Colleges that Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk
The Institute for College Access & Success

In 2013-14, nearly one million community college students across the nation were denied access to federal student loans, the safest and most affordable way to borrow for college. Our report includes national and state-by-state analyses of loan access by race/ethnicity and urbanicity, and takes an in-depth look at North Carolina, California, and Georgia.

Report

At What Cost? How Community Colleges that Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk
The Institute for College Access & Success

In 2013-14, nearly one million community college students across the nation were denied access to federal student loans, the safest and most affordable way to borrow for college. Our report includes national and state-by-state analyses of loan access by race/ethnicity and urbanicity, and takes an in-depth look at North Carolina, California, and Georgia.

Post

At What Cost?
How Community Colleges that Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk

With Americans increasingly having to borrow to pay for college, a new report from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) finds that nearly one million community college students cannot get federal student loans because their school chooses not to offer them. Without access to federal student loans, students may not be able to stay enrolled without turning to more costly and risky forms of borrowing such as credit cards or private loans, or reducing their chances of graduating by working longer hours or cutting back on classes.
 

Seminar

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Covering the College Student Experience
2014 Higher Ed Seminar

For many college students — whether fresh out of high school or adults returning to school — their most serious obstacles to a degree won’t be homework or tests, but rather the challenges of navigating student life. Colleges are now being forced to face the longstanding problems that have often led to students’ flailing and failing on their own. 

Scott Jaschik addresses reporters at EWA's 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Top 10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering

For higher education reporters, Inside Higher Ed editor Scott Jaschik’s annual top-10 list of story ideas is a highlight of EWA’s National Seminar. This year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Jaschik kicked off his roundup with  an issue that has affected many institutions around the country: sexual assault. The key to covering this story, he said, is not to imply that this is a new problem. Increased attention from the White House has challenged the ways that many colleges have addressed these incidents.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addresses attendees at the 67th National Seminar.
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tennessee’s Haslam Aims for Mantle of Education Governor

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam laughingly admitted during a speech at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar this week that his state hasn’t always been known as a “hotbed of education reform”—or frankly, a place known for its academic achievement.

Moreover, he wasn’t the state CEO who ushered in a series of dramatic education policy changes that has put the state on the national school reform map. Still, he said at the May 19 appearance in Nashville, he’s been the guy “standing in the doorway making sure we don’t retreat.”

Key Coverage

Community Colleges Increasingly Adding Bachelor’s Degrees

An increasing number of community colleges around the country have started offering four-year bachelor’s degrees in fields for which there is high job demand. Critics and supporters of the trend say alternately that it is helping fill an important social need most universities aren’t, or that it’s an ego-driven, money-wasting cry for prestige and respect from institutions at the low end of the higher-education hierarchy.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Making the Jump to a Four-Year Degree Difficult for Community College Students

Several reports dropped this week about the difficulties community college students face transferring into a four-year college.

Nearly half of all postsecondary students are enrolled at a community college, and a poll from 2012 indicates 80 percent of those students aim to complete a degree at a four-year college or university. But while that goal is shared by many students, few actually successfully jump from a two-year to a four-year program.

Report

The Community College Route to the Bachelor’s Degree

It is well established that students who begin postsecondary education at a community college are less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than otherwise similar undergraduates who begin at a 4-year school, but there is less consensus over the mechanisms generating this disparity. We explore these using national longitudinal transcript data and propensity-score methods. … 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

States Balk as GED Gets More Expensive

Life for the nearly 40 million Americans without a high school diploma could be about to get harder as testing companies who create high school equivalency exams are rolling out tougher – and in some cases — more expensive

EWA Radio

Can Community Colleges Get Better?

More than ever, community colleges are being seen as key to getting millions of Americans the education they need to thrive. Yet while many students enter community colleges for job training that does not culminate in a degree, many more intend to get a degree but fall short. What can change?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Campus Coverage Project: College Journos Gather at Arizona State

I’m in Phoenix for the next few days at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. EWA is helping out with IRE’s (Investigative Reporters and Editors) third annual Campus Coverage Project conference. Roughly 75 of the nation’s top college journalists were selected to spend four days learning the latest techniques and tips for writing investigative stories.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A New Year: What’s Ahead For Education

Here were are in January, and I’m still trying to figure out what happened to October. The fall sped by as I adjusted to a new city and a new job. This winter isn’t going much slower.

For many people, myself included, 2011 was a year of intense highs and lows. In the education world, there is much unfinished business that carried over from the old year to the new. We still don’t know what’s going to replace No Child Left Behind. School districts nationwide are dealing with massive budget shortfalls that could result in layoffs and cuts to programs and services.

Organization

League for Innovation in Community Colleges

The League for Innovation in Community Colleges is “specifically committed to improving community colleges through innovation, experimentation, and institutional transformation.” Founded in 1968, the League played a key role in helping to increase the number of community colleges nationally during the 1970s and currently is working to help community colleges improve their graduation rates.

Organization

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute awarded its first Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2011. Valencia College in Florida won the $600,000 award because of its comparatively high graduation rate and success helping students find jobs. The next prize is schedules to be awarded in 2013.

Organization

Community College Research Center

The Community College Research Center is a key resource for information and data about community colleges. The CCRC is based at the Teachers College, Columbia University. Their research regarding the impact of remedial and developmental courses at community colleges has been particularly notable.

Organization

Association of Community College Trustees

The Association of Community College Trustees is “a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 communities, technical, and junior colleges in the United States.” One of the key services the ACCT offers is an executive search program that helps trustees find leaders for their institutions.

Organization

American Association of Community Colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges is the leading organization for the nation’s nearly 1,200 two-year colleges. The AACC provides guidance and advocates and lobbies on behalf of community colleges. Most recently, the AACC has worked to revise the reporting standards for graduation rate data and has initiated a 21st Century commission to address the changing roles of community colleges.

Organization

Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream is a nonprofit initiative “dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.” Nearly 100 community colleges nationwide are participating in the project.

Key Coverage

California Community Colleges Release Completion Scorecards

California’s community college system on April 9 unveiled Web-based “scorecards” on student performance at its 112 colleges. The new data tool is user-friendly and often sobering, with graduation, retention and transfer rates for each of the colleges and for the overall system, which enrolls 2.4 million students. 

Key Coverage

The Great Aid Gap

As certificates grow in number and importance, many educators are calling attention to what they see as an overlooked problem in the nation’s efforts to upgrade workers’ skills and deal with soaring higher-education costs: Federal financial aid goes overwhelmingly to students in traditional degree programs, while little goes to the many students in noncredit certificate programs who may need it more. 

Key Coverage

California Bill Seeks Campus Credit for Online Study

Legislation will be introduced in the California Senate that could reshape higher education by requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes on campus.

If it passes, as seems likely, it would be the first time that state legislators have instructed public universities to grant credit for courses that were not their own — including those taught by a private vendor, not by a college or university.

Report

Completion Matters: The High Cost of Community Colleges

This report examines the potential financial costs to regions where the community college graduation rates are low. According to the report, “Cutting the dropout rate by half would generate substantial gains: the 160,000 “new” graduates would earn $30 billion more in lifetime income—and create an additional $5.3 billion in total taxpayer revenue.”

Report

Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future

This report from the AACC’s 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges essentially offers a mission statement for two-year institutions as the nation’s economy still seeks to recover from the 2008 financial crisis. The report calls for improved measures and performance on student graduation rates, along with better ties to high schools, the workforce, and four-year colleges. 

Report

Predicting Success in College: The Importance of Placement Tests and High School Transcripts

This study delves into the questions of how best to determine whether students who enroll in community colleges should be placed in college-level or remedial courses, and the effect remedial placement has on graduation rates. The authors find that high school grade point average is more useful when it comes to predicting student success. 

Report

Committee on Measures of Student Success

This final report from a committee gathered to re-evaluate how the U.S. Education Department collects data regarding student graduation rates for postsecondary institutions recommends ways the department could better account for transfer students other students overlooked by the “first-year, full-time enrollment” standard the department had used. Most advocates believe such changes in practice—In April 2012, the Education Department announced plans to enact the recommendations—would benefit community colleges, whose students often transfer.