MCC Programs Prepare Students For College-Level Work
Manchester, CT – October 11, 2012 . . . Nationally, an estimated 60 percent of new students at community colleges are placed in remedial courses in reading, writing and – especially – math. At Manchester Community College, that number is closer to 70 percent. In response to this desperate need, the college offers a phalanx of programs and services that help students identify their educational goals and prepare them for college-level work. No matter a student’s educational background, the faculty and staff at MCC assess each student’s college readiness and help design a program of remediation (if necessary) and study that will facilitate the students’ ability to complete his/her educational plan.
What is "college readiness”? According to Redefining College Readiness (EPIC 2007), college readiness is the level of preparation a student needs to enroll and succeed – without remediation – in a credit-bearing general education course. The college-ready student is able to understand what is expected in a college course, can cope with the content knowledge that is presented, and can take away from the course the key intellectual lessons and dispositions the course was designed to convey and develop. In addition, the student is prepared to get the most out of the college experience due to a thorough understanding of the culture and structure of post-secondary education.
At Manchester Community College, the programs and services that aid students in achieving college readiness include support at various stages of their college career.
Preparing to Enter College
Of the public high school students who attended a community college in Fall 2009 immediately after graduating from high school, 72 percent were assessed as not ready for college-level math and English classes. MCC has implemented a number of programs that prepare students for college-level work before they attend MCC in order to boost the likelihood of their academic success once enrolled.
- MCC is partnering with Eastern Connecticut State University, Quinebaug Valley Community College and Three Rivers Community College to devise regional plans for complying with PA 12-40, which sets forth the state’s expectations of college readiness and completeness. Faculty and administrators from all four schools have been reviewing best practices, analyzing the current situations, and developing proposals for new and enhanced programs and services needed to meet the law’s Fall 2014 implementation date.
- Manchester Community College is one of three Connecticut higher education institutions to share in the seven-year, $31.5 million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) grant to improve college access and readiness for Connecticut’s students. The funding will be used to significantly increase the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education, and to provide scholarships for eligible high school seniors. The Connecticut state GEAR UP project will serve 3,000 students attending 12 middle schools in East Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury through 2019, and will follow these students though middle school, high school and their first year of college, where existing student success programs will support these students as they prepare to enter the workforce.
- The Summer Training and Academic Retention Service (STARS) program prepares financially disadvantaged and academically under-prepared students who are transitioning from secondary school to MCC. This past summer, the college expanded the STARS program to include college readiness in math by using the newly–introduced math redesign approach.
- The High School Partnership program is available to high school juniors and/or seniors with a “B” average or higher who wish to study subjects not offered by their high school, broaden their education, earn college credits, explore career options or build on their skills.
- College Career Pathways develops activities and processes that increase the college readiness of high school students preparing to graduate and enter the work force or enroll in college. The central function of the program is the management of the dual credit program and the alignment of curricula, and the articulation of individual courses and programs with the high schools. Through this process, faculty from the college make numerous visits to high schools to attend classes, meet with teachers and administrators, and participate in the design (or re-design) of articulated courses. In addition, faculty from MCC meet with high school teachers and hold informal round table discussions at the college involving curriculum issues and classroom pedagogy.
- Great Path Academy is a middle college high school on MCC’s campus, serving 9th-12th grade students. Many students graduate from high school with college credit as a result of dual enrollment opportunities. During the school year, faculty and staff from MCC and GPA participate in joint professional development and collaborate on curriculum alignment and course content. These activities are responsible, in part, for an increase from 55 to 73 percent of GPA students taking an assessment test placing into college-level English.
- Every summer 25 incoming African American and Latino males and 25 females are awarded scholarships to participate in the Brother-2-Brother and Sister-2-Sister Boot Camps. This week-long program is designed to indoctrinate participants to the rigors of college and to connect them early in their college experience with peer and professional mentors. The scholarship covers transportation, required texts, and daily lunch. Students participate in a host of workshops including financial literacy, goal setting, and visit state universities as a part of the experience.
- Manchester’s Reaching Education Achievement for College Transition (REACT) program is a partnership between Manchester Adult and Continuing Education and Manchester Community College to provide a supportive educational environment for students who want to transition to college. Participants earn two college credits and complete the equivalent of Manchester Community College’s developmental English and math sequence. Students receive support services, including a personal librarian; participate in cultural enrichment excursions that support their learning program; meet and learn with other student with the same goals; and receive continued support from Manchester Community College staff after completion of the program.
- The Vernon adult education program and MCC collaborate on two transition-to-college programs, one for allied health students and one for any student transitioning into college.
- The East Hartford Bridge to College program is a partnership between MCC and East Hartford High School that prepares students for the transition from high school to college through supplemental English instruction, mentoring, assessment testing and field trips.
- The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund and MCC faculty have partnered to sponsor STEM Expo G2O, “Generating Girls Opportunities,” to keep middle school girls engaged in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, to promote their knowledge about STEM careers, and to foster middle school teachers’ and counselors’ familiarity with innovative methods in teaching STEM and encouraging gender equity in STEM classrooms.
- Excursions in Learning provides 30-hour, in-depth enrichment courses for gifted, talented and highly motivated students in grades K-8 in language arts, math, science, culture and history, visual arts and the performing arts.
Once Enrolled in College
Once students enroll in MCC, they have access to a full range of programs and services that will not only prepare them academically for college-level work, but will provide the tools and skills needed to navigate college outside the classroom, and in the workforce beyond.
- MCC’s SD 111–First Year Experience course teaches students how to succeed in college-level courses. Topics include general study skills, goal setting, motivation, time management, career and life planning, and an overview of support services.
- Adults in Transition serves the returning non-traditional age student with a one-credit study skills program and a two-credit transition development course. A separate orientation, and individualized counseling and advising, are provided throughout the student’s first year.
- The English 066/064 Transition Development Lab pilot project imbeds student support services into the course curriculum. Student Development Specialists attend each class for 1.5 hours per week to work on study skills and success techniques, and work with the English faculty to align success techniques with the course curriculum.
- The Academic Support Center offers individual and small group tutoring, free of charge, to current MCC students, in courses they are presently taking, with a focus on developmental English and math.
- The Writing Center is a free and accessible resource for MCC students. An alternative to an individual appointment with an English tutor, the Writing Center offers students the opportunity to workshop their writing on a daily basis.
- The Academic Success Program offers individualized advising and support to students in developmental courses through dedicated Student Development Specialists.
- MCC’s developmental math sequence has undergone a complete redesign, based on successful models at other institutions. Students are able to work at their own pace; those capable of working at an accelerated pace can complete the coursework in one semester (or less) while those who might be struggling with a particular concept are able to pick up at that point without repeating the entire course.
Partnerships and Professional Development
MCC coordinates a number of connecting activities with high schools aimed at strengthening the collaborative relationships between institutions and faculty. They are designed to better align curricula, increase levels of student readiness for college, and reduce the need for developmental course work by entering college students. Some examples include:
- Disciplines with articulated courses and programs hold annual or bi-annual roundtable meetings between college and high school faculty where best practices are shared and changes in course curriculum are communicated.
- Professional development events, held each year, engage college faculty and staff on topics supporting college and workplace readiness issues. Recent seminars have focused on high school reform, course alignment and college readiness, career development and counseling, and preparing students for assessment testing.
- Perkins Grant awards provide MCC faculty and staff with funding to support the programs that contribute to the goals associated with curriculum alignment and student college readiness.
Keeping Ahead of the Field
MCC has invested in a research agenda aimed at better understanding its under-prepared students and assessing its support programs and new curriculum models. Examples include progress and success rates for students working through developmental English and math sequences, an Ability to Benefit brief, an evaluation of new pre-requisites, and detailed reports on its work with Great Path Academy.
- Many students are arriving at MCC under-prepared for college work. Among new first time college students coming directly from high school over the past five years, about half were ready for college level English, and about half were ready for college level Math. Only 31% of these students were ready for college level work in both English and Math. To meet the needs of these students, MCC offers many sections of developmental courses, 66 in Fall 2012. Developmental courses, however, account for less than 10% of all credit registrations in a given term.
- MCC engages in a variety of educational partnerships with area high schools. One of these is the High School Partnership (HSP) program – high school students participating as members of a college class, on the college campus. Over the past three academic years, high school students have registered for over 800 courses through the High School Partnership program. Great Path Academy students have accounted for more than half of all these HSP registrations.
- Within the context of national Ability to Benefit conversations, MCC has performed research on the academic outcomes of its most under-prepared students. Items examined include placement test scores, progress through English and Math developmental sequences, institutional factors, and the possible impacts of various policies that might limit students’ access to MCC. Policy changes related to pre-requisites on college level classes and restrictions on repeating courses have resulted from these discussions.
Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.