Adult education at community colleges is a win-win-win

Added November 17th, 2015 by Peter Ruark | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Peter Ruark

One of the biggest obstacles to student success in community college is the need to relearn basic skills through developmental education. Fully 61% of community college students in Michigan need to take at least one developmental education class because they have not mastered an academic skill at the level necessary for college-level classes.

Having to take developmental education courses creates two problems for students. First, it prolongs the time that students have to spend in college to get a credential (degree, certificate or license). Second, developmental education courses, even though they are non-credit, cost the same amount of money as regular for-credit college courses. This means students either have to pay more out of pocket or use up some of their financial aid on non-credit classes.

The longer it takes a student to complete a degree, the more likely the student will drop out before graduating. This is especially true of students with jobs and families, and such “non-traditional” students now are the majority of the student population at community colleges.

In the same way, the more expensive it is to get a community college education, the higher the likelihood of a student running out of money or financial aid and having to drop out.

One idea that is gaining some traction is to align adult education classes with community college curriculums and provide them at community colleges in place of developmental education. The Michigan League for Public Policy recommends that school districts (the providers of adult education in Michigan) and community colleges enter into transfer agreements through which specific adult education classes, offered on campus at the community colleges, would fulfill developmental education requirements. This would save students money, because adult education classes are free for the students.

This would be a win-win-win for the parties involved: community colleges would get some relief from having to provide so much developmental education, adult education providers would conduct classes in an environment conducive to student success, and students would save money without having to travel off-campus for basic skills education.

Michigan needs more of its community college students to succeed, especially those who are raising families and need to acquire occupational skills and a credential leading to employment. This is one idea the state should consider to facilitate that success.

— Peter Ruark 

One Response to “Adult education at community colleges is a win-win-win”

  1. […] (Originally posted in the Michigan League for Public Policy) […]

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