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After Admission

After Admission: From College Access to College Success

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 280
  • Book Info
    After Admission
    Book Description:

    Enrollment at America’s community colleges has exploded in recent years, with five times as many entering students today as in 1965. However, most community college students do not graduate; many earn no credits and may leave school with no more advantages in the labor market than if they had never attended. Experts disagree over the reason for community colleges’ mixed record. Is it that the students in these schools are under-prepared and ill-equipped for the academic rigors of college? Are the colleges themselves not adapting to keep up with the needs of the new kinds of students they are enrolling? In After Admission, James Rosenbaum, Regina Deil-Amen, and Ann Person weigh in on this debate with a close look at this important trend in American higher education. After Admission compares community colleges with private occupational colleges that offer accredited associates degrees. The authors examine how these different types of institutions reach out to students, teach them social and cultural skills valued in the labor market, and encourage them to complete a degree. Rosenbaum, Deil-Amen, and Person find that community colleges are suffering from a kind of identity crisis as they face the inherent complexities of guiding their students towards four-year colleges or to providing them with vocational skills to support a move directly into the labor market. This confusion creates administrative difficulties and problems allocating resources. However, these contradictions do not have to pose problems for students. After Admission shows that when colleges present students with clear pathways, students can effectively navigate the system in a way that fits their needs. The occupational colleges the authors studied employed close monitoring of student progress, regular meetings with advisors and peer cohorts, and structured plans for helping students meet career goals in a timely fashion. These procedures helped keep students on track and, the authors suggest, could have the same effect if implemented at community colleges. As college access grows in America, institutions must adapt to meet the needs of a new generation of students. After Admission highlights organizational innovations that can help guide students more effectively through higher education.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-478-1
    Subjects: Education, Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Chapter One Community Colleges: Traditional College Procedures for Nontraditional Students
    (pp. 1-25)

    The United States is well on its way to a previously impossible goal: universal higher education. Over 80 percent of high school graduates enter higher education in the eight years after high school (Adelman 2003, table 2.7). College enrollment has dramatically increased, and most of the gain is in a relatively new institution: community colleges.

    Minor institutions just a few decades ago, community colleges are now a major player in American society. A generation ago, public two-year colleges were called junior colleges, were considered unimportant, and enrolled only a small portion of college students. Now called community colleges, they have...

  6. Chapter Two Research Methods
    (pp. 26-39)

    Most research on subbaccalaureate education focuses on community colleges. This approach is appropriate, considering that community colleges enroll about half of all college students, as well as about 95 percent of all two-year college students. There is certainly great variation in the ways that community colleges can and do operate, and much could be learned from comparative analysis of different community colleges. On the other hand, community colleges contrast sharply with their private counterparts—accredited, degree-granting occupational colleges. Both community and occupational colleges serve a relatively disadvantaged and nontraditional student population, and both seek to educate these students for skilled...

  7. Chapter Three “Warming Up” the Aspirations of Community College Student
    (pp. 40-65)

    We begin the discussion of the individual versus institutional model by exploring the role that community colleges can play in shifting individual students’ goals and aspirations. In exploring this process, we reveal how community colleges act to positively encourage and perhaps change students, but also suggest that such informal strategies do not necessarily translate directly into students’ eventual goal attainment. Later in this volume, we suggest the various ways in which more formal and systematic institutional procedures might have an influence on students’ success above and beyond the encouragement of aspirations.

    Research on community colleges has historically focused a critical...

  8. Chapter Four The Unintended Consequences of Stigma-Free Remediation
    (pp. 66-93)

    As Norton Grubb (1996) notes, the concept of cooling out student ambitions was generated from a study of a single junior college in the 1950s, and emphasizes the central role of counselors in this process. Since that time, little research has examined either the internal practices of faculty and counselors or the perceptions of students with regard to this issue. In the study that did attempt such an examination, the author concluded that counselors may not play a central role because students’ interactions with them are limited: “They simply do not have power or influence enough to accomplish all that...

  9. Chapter Five Student Information Problems with College Procedures
    (pp. 94-112)

    Overheated aspirations and hidden remedial barriers may create problems for some community college students, but these are not the only problems students face. We turn to other problematic community college assumptions. We examine student needs with respect to information and planning for college and careers, and suggest that students have a variety of problems understanding college procedures and requirements besides those related to remedial courses, often making college plans based on meager or incorrect information. To see alternative procedures, we add comparisons with a sample of occupational colleges.

    Student information deficiencies have become a growing issue for community colleges in...

  10. Chapter Six The Social Prerequisites of Success
    (pp. 113-135)

    The information problems that individual community college students encounter extend beyond the obvious and involve a disjuncture that occurs when students must respond to institutional procedures. Colleges demand a certain level of social know-how, a set of skills and knowledge that help students understand school procedures and navigate these institutions. Students must know something about the paths of progress through colleges. This knowledge includes awareness of enrollment, registration, and financial aid procedures. They must also know how to initiate information gathering, acquire sound and useful advice, avoid costly mistakes, and manage conflicting demands.

    Although many middle-class students have such know...

  11. Chapter Seven Charter Building and Job Contacts
    (pp. 136-166)

    Earlier chapters detailed the ways that colleges can construct institutional procedures to improve student success during college by providing accessible and useful information and minimizing complicated demands. However, student success does not end at finding advisors and choosing the correct courses. Here, and in the two chapters that follow, we address the institutional procedures that colleges use to help graduates make the transition from college to the labor market. Most students enter college to improve their job prospects (Grubb 1996), but it is not clear how college enables them to accomplish this. These chapters will describe some procedures that two...

  12. Chapter Eight Labor-Market Linking Among Faculty
    (pp. 167-181)

    As described, colleges engage in a range of institutional charter-building activities to improve their graduates’ employment prospects and seamlessly usher them into relevant and high-quality jobs. Beyond these, however, individual staff can also engage in activities to build and maintain relationships with prospective employers.

    Research has found that teachers and employers are largely suspicious of each other and reluctant to leave their respective domains to interact with the other (Lortie 1975; Useem 1986). We examine an important class of exceptions: two-year college faculty who go beyond formal job duties to interact with employers in order to facilitate students’ labor market...

  13. Chapter Nine Educational Outcomes of Labor-Market Linking
    (pp. 182-200)

    Although labor-market linking has obvious benefits on outcomes after graduation, here we examine whether such linking can improve outcomes during college. First, using student survey data from the fourteen colleges discussed earlier, we determine how student effort and confidence in college are influenced by their perceptions of the usefulness of college and teacher contacts in securing employment. Next, using national data, we determine whether job placement services are similarly associated with timely completion of the associate’s degree.

    As noted, systematic information about school-employer contacts can be difficult to obtain because these linkages often rely on informal arrangements between individual teachers...

  14. Chapter Ten To Teach or Not to Teach “Social Skills”?
    (pp. 201-221)

    Along with institutional procedures, instructional activities are also part of the equation in fostering student success. The first part of this book describes ways that college procedures help students during college, and the second half describes ways that college procedures can enhance graduates’ transition to employment. However, labor market success does not depend solely on institutional charters and employer links. Students also need subtle soft skills to find, secure, and maintain jobs. Traditional college procedures assume that college students already possess such skills, yet many two-year college students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and often have not been exposed to the...

  15. Chapter Eleven Conclusion: Organizational Procedures to Reduce Student Problems
    (pp. 222-244)

    In only a little over one generation, American society has shifted to “college for all” policies. Despite changing their admissions requirements and enrolling new groups of students, however, community colleges still use traditional procedures designed for traditional college students. Thus, though poor degree completion rates are blamed on students’ academic and financial limitations, we found community college procedures that may also contribute to student problems. The occupational colleges we studied use, as we discovered, alternative procedures, not based on traditional assumptions about students and which reduce students’ problems, even among nontraditional students with academic and financial limitations.

    Society often hurts...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 245-246)
  17. References
    (pp. 247-258)
  18. Index
    (pp. 259-268)