Grad Rates Up with New Pathways

Grad Rates Up with New Pathways

Last month, College of the Canyons, in northern Los Angeles County, awarded diplomas to 1,766 students—a 21 percent increase over the class of 2015, according to  Maura King Scully, in Community College Daily

Here is a key passage from the article:

That significant increase is mainly due to the new Associate Degree for Transfer program, says Audrey Green, COC’s associate vice president of academic affairs.

California community college students can now earn the new AA-T or AS-T (T, for transfer) degrees, which are designed specifically for transfer to the California State University (CSU) system. Students who complete an AA-T or AS-T are guaranteed admittance to one of the 23 CSU campuses, though not necessarily their first choice.

This strategy follows a trend around the country, including Texas, to limit curricular options for students, to reduce confusion and enrollment in classes that don't count directly toward a degree. 

COC has also reduced the need for students to take classes that are not necessary for particular majors. For example, COC students who are not pursuing degrees in the sciences no longer have to take science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) classes or a calculus math pathway, thereby shortening their time to degree completion, the article reports. 

One point that should be emphasized is that California has a more structured higher education system than most other states, due to reforms enacted in the 1960s, creating a three-tiered system of research universities, regional universities, and community colleges. Here in Texas we have a much different landscape and historical tradition, bringing added complexity. 

Secondly, reducing pathways for students obviously cannot be accomplished without consequences. Take psychology, for instance—a major universally popular with students who will, in all likelihood, not pursue psychology as a profession. From the piece:

Transfer degrees are popular with students; Green points to the psychology major as evidence. “Psychology used to have 60 people working toward associate degrees. Now we have 17 traditional psychology majors and 174 Associate Degree for Transfer students,” she says.