Community colleges provide affordable opportunities [Letter]

September 11, 2014

Many postsecondary students do not follow a traditional path from college entry to degree at a single institution ("More students transferring into Maryland universities," Sept. 8). Approximately half of all students attend more than one institution, reflecting a much more complex enrollment pattern. The linear view of college that focuses on the initial institution where a student starts their postsecondary experience fails to assess the realities of how mobile students have become over the last decade.

This fall, approximately 12,000 students transferred from one of Maryland's community colleges to a University System of Maryland (USM) institution. Students who transferred to a USM institution and attended full-time have a higher graduation rate than full-time new freshmen at a USM institution for the fiscal year 2010 cohort.

Students decide for many reasons to attend community colleges whether to obtain a licensure, certificate, associate's degree or to transfer. It has also become a way to gain access to a bachelor's degree for many savvy students who understand how affordable community colleges are.

Reporter Carrie Wells does an excellent job highlighting how well Maryland's community college system has partnered with the public four-year colleges and universities in the state. The community college presidents are excited about the opportunities for students as a result of the College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013. This legislation has been helpful to students in creating a statewide transfer agreement so students can have a more streamlined pathway to a public four-year institution. The legislation also established a reverse-transfer system so students who have transferred prior to earning an associate's degree can transfer credit back to the community college in order to obtain a 2-year degree.

The act also challenged all postsecondary institutions to establish incentives for students to obtain a credential. As a result, USM and the Maryland Association of Community Colleges supported legislation during the 2014 legislative session to create a 2+2 Transfer Scholarship for students who have completed their associate's degree before transferring to a four-year institution.

Community college students understand the role of community colleges best. MACC continues to work on educating the public and policy makers as to how integral community colleges are to the state's economic future.

There is still work to be done so community colleges can serve all Marylanders from the high school drop-out to a laid-off worker needing to upgrade her or his skills, the top academic achiever who wants to transfer to a four year public or private institution after two years, the working adult going to college part-time and many others. We look forward to new opportunities with the incoming governor as well as the General Assembly to create supportive policies as well as advocate for funding to help Maryland become an even more supportive environment for students.

Bernard J. Sadusky, Annapolis

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

-
To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.
Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.