Grant could offer a second chance to finish community college

Capital News Service
LANSING — People who never got the chance to finish their degree just might if a proposal in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget to renew funding for an education grant is approved. The Independent Part-Time Student Grant was discontinued in 2009 during a budget crisis. But the governor’s $6 million proposal to revive the grant could mean a big difference for students who never finished their community college degree. “There’s a significant number of these people, they start and for whatever reason, don’t finish with a degree,” said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “Maybe because you ran out of money, because life things got in the way.”

Michigan has 28 community colleges.

Community colleges vie for 'pathways' grants

Capital News Service
LANSING – Grand Rapids Community College hopes to be awarded a grant to improve career pathways for adult learners through counseling before and after enrollment. “This grant will help us fill some gaps we have in programs and help us possibly make some previous work experience transfer into credit,” said George Waite, director of employee training at the college. The Pathways to Credentials grant would be administered by the Michigan Community College Association’s Center for Student Success and funded by the Kresge Foundation. Grants of $75,000 over the next two years will go to six community colleges based on their written proposals, said Chris Baldwin, the center director. “Community colleges will be able to fund programs that they previously did not have funds for, and this will help bridge the gap of college-educated people in the workforce,” Baldwin said.

Community colleges work to facilitate developmental education

Capital News Service
LANSING – About 60 percent of students who show up at a community college need at least one developmental course in math, English or reading, according to Michigan Community College Association President Michael Hansen.
Hansen said, “A large percentage of those students – if they make it out of their developmental education sequence – their chances for actually completing a degree are much lower than the students that don’t get placed in.”
And Jenny Schanker, associate director of the Michigan Center for Student Success, said a strategy community colleges are using to alleviate that problem is communication with their K-12 partners. Schanker said there are two sets of people who need developmental courses – traditional students, 24 and younger, who didn’t do well and scored low on the ACT and placement tests coming into college, and adults, 25 and older, who have been out of college for some time. Many in the second category are displaced workers who come back to be retrained for a new career but may not have finished high school. One major initiative community colleges are engaged in is Achieving the Dream, a national effort to increase student success. Schanker said 17 Michigan schools have joined, including Macomb, Oakland, Montcalm, Jackson and Grand Rapids community colleges.

Community colleges pushing for student success

Capital News Service
LANSING – Community colleges across the state are taking steps to increase involvement in each individual student’s education, including Macomb, Jackson, Lake Michigan, North Central and Grand Rapids community colleges. They’re developing new education and career planning programs as well as offering a wider range of advising, tutoring and financial support services. According to Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, those steps are being taken to change the reputation of community colleges from a last resort to a viable alternative to more expensive and less personal four-year universities. “What we’ve really seen recently is a greater focus on student success,” Hansen said. “It can be hard to get a sense of a student’s identity in a community college setting because there are so many people coming in and often leaving very soon for four-year universities.

International student population up at some community college

Capital News Service
LANSING – The number of international students at some community colleges – including those in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Wayne County – is increasing, according to the Michigan Community College Association. South Korea, China and India are the top places of origin for them, and business, health careers and computers are their most popular fields of study. Evan Montague, dean of student services at Lansing Community College (LCC), said the college has a strong international student population with 400 students from 56 countries out of 20,000 in total. To ease their transition to a new environment, the college holds an international orientation. LCC also has an international student services coordinator who assists students in connecting with campus academic support, as well as an international student department and an active international student club.