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Stigma Associated with Community Colleges

ED730 Service Theory: Evolution and Influences Dr. Darnell J. Bradley/Dr. Nancy Blair


Lucia E. Francis


Sunday, 26 September 2010

5 What Aspect Of My Leadership and Service Development Does This Relate To? In my current role, I am well aware of my responsibility to be a conduit to facilitate the educational opportunities for all. To better serve those who seek higher education it is essential that we actively engagethe area high schools in dialogue about the multitude of opportunities for those students who show interest in college.

4 What Can I Take From This? Analysis, Learning, Lessons, Opportunities for Change,

1 What Happened/What Did I Do? The Event, Action, Bare Facts

2 How Did I Feel/Do I Now Feel? At The Time And Later - Feelings Change Over Time

Attending college provides  opportunities for graduates, which  are not as available to those who  have not received a higher  education.  Collegeis challenging. For

In multiple occasions, while casually talking to young people in the community I have discovered that due to similar reasons, they find themselves working rather than actively pursuing an education. I have had this conversation in all types of venues and with young people from diverse experiencesand backgrounds. I have actively pursued input from those individuals who are working when they should be in school. The story is very similar…”I was enrolled in the local university and had a bad year, failed. I defaulted on a loan. I have to pay back, my parents are angry with me. I don’t think I have the ability to do college.”

It is a challenge for me to hear a young person sound so hopeless. I am always curious to know the circumstancesthat lead them to have a negative experience in college. Didn’t someone advise these young people about the various paths to higher education? I know that making decisions at the age of 16-18 can be daunting. I also know that many young people feel a great deal of pressure to make a college decision while they are finishing high school.

many it requires a much larger effort than high school did At times it seemsimpossible for students to stay on top of it all. College students drop out of school each year becausethey cannot afford it. Others are forced to juggle full schedules with full time jobs to make ends meet. It is becoming increasingly harder for students to graduate debt-free.

3 What is my honest objective assessment of what happened and the causes? I think that those who advise students such as, parents, counselors, teachers, and friends, have a perception of community college education that may be based on misconceptions. Onesuch myth is that since Community Collegeshave open admissions, the academic rigor and the level of preparednessof students must be low. Another misconception is that these collegeshave lower standards. Ultimately, I believe the cause of these wrong assumptions is related to limited or dated information shared with potential students.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

This is an interesting assignment – why do we, our society, put such pressure on ourselves to make certain decisions? Why don’t we investigate all our options to make


decisions based on facts and evidence? I chose the issue of bypassing enrollment in a community college and attending a university instead. I recognize often the impact such decisions have on those affected by it when such decisions are made for the wrong reasons. Thesereasons for this decision may be based on myths and misconceptions of the value f community colleges. Thesepast two months have been amazing in spite of the fact that I just started a new position and I am in the final stretch toward the doctoral degree finish line. My new position required that I move to a semi suburban, semi rural campus that is only approximately 12 miles from the Downtown campus. The environment from the two campuses,Downtown and North, is significantly different. The makeup of the student population is very different. Downtown is a small version of an international center with students from a variety of ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. My current campus is known within the College community as the Country Club Campus and the general belief is that it is located in a privileged area and that all is well in such an environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, I will explore the stigma associated with community colleges, why is there a stigma, is it an issue of elitism or lack of



HISTORY States, counties, municipalities, school districts, universities, and religious denominations have all organized community colleges. Somewere designed for specific racial and ethnic groups, for women, or for specific purposessuch as business, art, or military training. At the close of the twentieth century, two-year colleges enrolled 5,743,000students, 96 percent of whom attended public community colleges. Nearly 40 percent of all undergraduate students attended community and junior colleges. Between 1900 and 2000 the significance of this sector of higher education grew enormously.

Community Collegesare also referred as technical colleges, technical institutes or junior colleges. There are variations to the type of programs they offer, but they share a common mission.


The community college's mission is to provide education for individuals, many of whom are adults, in its service region with a basic commitment to: •

serving all segments of society through an open-access admissions policy that offers equal and fair treatment to all students;

comprehensive educational program;

serving its community as a community-based institution of higher education;

teaching; and

Lifelong learning.

Examining the historical development of Community Colleges helps one to understand some of the miss-conceptions held today. The structure, services provided, educational opportunities and student learning outcomes have significantly changed over time. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) is guided by a statutory requirement reflected on its mission as follows:. The legislature finds it in the public interest to provide a system of technical colleges which enables eligible persons to acquire the occupational skills training necessary for


full participation in the work force; which stresses job training and retraining; which recognizes the rapidly changing educational needs of residents to keep current with the demands of the work place and through its course offerings and programs facilitates educational options for resident; which fosters economic development; which provides education through associate degree programs and other programs below the baccalaureate level; which functions cooperatively with other educational institutions and other governmental bodies; and which provides services to all members of the public. Source: Chapter 38 of the Wisconsin Statutes Significant Historical Events in the Development of the Public Community College



EVENT Passageof the Morrill Act. With its emphasis on agriculture and the mechanical arts, the Morrill Act of 1862, often referred to as the Land Grant Act, expanded accessto public higher education, teaching both courses and students previously excluded from higher education.


The "Wisconsin Idea." The University of Wisconsin emphasized that the university was to assist the public through extension services and assistance to the state government. The university declared the boundaries of the state to be its campus. Today, most community college leaders view the college's service region as its campus


Passageof the GI Bill of Rights. In 1944 Congresspassedthe Servicemen's Readjustment Act. Popularly known as the GI Bill, this act provided financial assistance for veterans of World War II who wished to pursue higher education. The GI Bill was a milestone in the federal funding for education of individuals and did much to break down the economic and social barriers to allow millions of Americans to attend college. Indeed, more than 2.2 million veterans, including more than 60,000



EVENT women and approximately 70,000blacks, attended college under the GI Bill.


Publication of Higher Education for American Democracy by the President's Commission on Higher Education. The commission report, popularly known as The Truman Commission Report, called for, among other things, the establishment of a network of public community colleges that would charge little or no tuition, serve as cultural centers, be comprehensive in their program offerings with emphasis on civic responsibilities, and would serve the area in which they were located. The commission popularized the phrase community college, causing hundreds of existing and new public two-year colleges to include community in their names.


Edmund J.Gleazer Jr. In l958, Gleazer succeeded Bogue as the executive director (The title replaced that of executive secretary, and in 1972 the title was changed to president.) of the American Association of Junior Colleges. He remained in the position until 1981, working tirelessly to promote the nation's community and junior colleges.


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In 1960 the Kellogg Foundation announced a series of grants to be used to establish university centers for training two-year college leaders. In all, 12 universities established junior college leadership programs. Hundreds of future deans and presidents were graduates of the Kellogg Junior College Leadership Programs.


AACC.By majority vote of the membership, AACJCdrops the junior and changesits name to the American Association of Community Colleges.


Centennial. Community colleges celebrate a 100 years of service. Joliet Junior College was the first community college, established in 1901.

Vaughan, G. (n.d.) The community college story: A tale of american innovation. American Association of Community Colleges.

There are positive and negative perceptions of the Community Colleges. The positive perceptions include reduced cost, in comparison to a traditional university, and a smaller timeframe to earn a degree. The negative perceptions include the assumption that some students choose community college because they do not have the qualifications for a university. Some believe that they are places for people that are not smart enough, don’t have any money or just


weren’t good enough in high school. A place for people who could not make it into a university. Some people think you can't get as good of an education if you attend the community college. There is also a perception that an associate degrees earned from a community college do not carry much weight in the job market. If this negative perception of the Community Colleges is related to the concept of elitism, it is important in my judgment to examine the significance of such attitude. Elitism, according to the dictionary, is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who supposedly form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern. Another form of elitism is academic elitism, which is the practice of concentrating attention on or allocating funding to the best students, or those students who rank highest in a particular field of Endeavour. For example, a politician who promotes specialized biochemistry classes for students deemed by conventional structures to be highly intelligent in an effort to cure diseases might be accused of elitism. Elitism in education could be based on conventional assessment of learning ability, knowledge, or other abilities. However, an "elite" school could merely be a wealthy school or an old school.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Interview


I met with three individuals, two former MATC students and one who is currently enrolled at MATC after having experienced challenges and even failure at a university. The following is a brief summary of each case: Case 1: After a difficult year at the university, this student decided he was going to do something that he wanted, not what he was expected to do. He went to “trade school” (MATC)) and became a mechanic, despite his parent's initial objections. Eventually they supported him “It was a wakeup call for me, probably the worst thing that happened to me up to that point and really made me realize that I needed to take control of my life.” Part of that was the decision that he didn't want to waste any more time doing something he wouldn't be happy doing in the real world. He felt this pressure from his family and initially believed his only option was to


enroll at the university. He also stated that he immediately fell in love with his trade and “adored school. “

Case 2: “I did not struggle in high school”, and although she was being encouraged to enroll at the university, this student choose to attend MATC over other colleges. She could not qualify for financial aid, but her parents allowed her to live at home. She had a great experience at MATC and she recently graduated with honors with no debt and received a full tuition scholarship to a private and competitive university. She stated that her proudest accomplishment was to be able to complete her college experience this far without “going a penny into debt.” Case 3: This student started at MATC this fall. He graduated from high school with at 3.1 GPA and scored 1530 on the SAT both times he took it. He participated in extracurricular activities and was even president of a club, took four honors courses and was enrolled in two dual credit courses through MATC. He was admitted to two local universities, but he did not want to attend either school. His family encouraged him to enroll in one of them since his sister was already there. He felt pressured to enroll at one of the universities and he did. He did not have a good year. He realized too late that he was beyond being able to save his grades and was placed on probation. He felt that MATC was the best choice for him if he wanted to go to a school where “I was going to be happy at.” He had spoken to some of his friends and was hearing very positive experiences . He is currently taking six credits. He stated that some of his friends and family


think his decision is wrong and "stupid" but he thinks, “it is a second chance of sorts. I know I'll have to work hard to really get to where I want to be, but I've matured and know what I need to do and where I want to go.”

Common Themes:

In July, I met with three students who had just completed summer camp. These high school seniors were “at risk” and were getting ready to start college at MATC this fall. The dreadful question was asked, what are you going to study? I immediately saw the worried looks of uncertainty. I assured them that it was ok to not know. That most importantly they needed to know what was most important to them. To take the time to know their passion and to determine what purpose they want to fulfill. Most of all, I encouraged them to move forward and start


college taking subjects that they know they will like and succeed. To be prepared to take some risks and as they progress in their studies, narrow down their options by filtering all of the possibilities through their future vision. Judging by their expressions, it was obvious that a weight was lifted of their shoulders.

The Fieldtrip

21October 2010

Among the multiple community outreach activities that are sponsored by MATCis the partnership with the regional high schools. The Northern Region Academic Partnership or NRAPmeets once a moth and its membership includes administrators, principals, and counselors. The purpose of NRAPis to explore and offer opportunities for the high schools to work with MATCby creating learning opportunities and pathways towards higher education. Given the makeup of the membership and the role they play in working with students, I determined that a discussion with these individuals would provide me with great insight regarding perceptions of community colleges and even the stigma associated with attending these colleges. The October meeting’s agenda was dedicated to this activity. I prepared for my “fieldtrip” by designing and administering a survey two weeks before the meeting. The survey asked the high school representatives about their experiences in helping students decide their college plans including MATC and what they hear from parents about the possibility of their child attending MATC. The responses were discussed subsequently.


NRAP - North Region High Schools Survey for Discussion on Perceptions October 2010 Sent to 10 high schools, receive five responses. (Brown Deer HS, Northern Ozaukee HS, Grafton HS, Port Washington HS, Cedarburg HS, Homestead HS, Germantown HS, Nicolet HS, Shorewood HS, Whitefish Bay HS.) MATC would be the ideal place to go to college for this type of student... 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.


Those who are challenged by academic performance, At risk or low performing students Economically disadvantaged students, Those who are undecided Those who wait until the last minute to decide Students who are interested in a college education Mostly students who are interested in a trade Other (wanting to get back into the workforce or who have lost their jobs)

Students seeking training for entrylevel employment are the best candidates to attend MATC.

4 4 4 5 1 3 2 1





What are the reasons for choosing true or false? Neither applies. We take kids where they are at. We base our advisement on performance, interest and academic fit. Neither is true of the basis of our advisement. Children of 4-year college attendee parents have attended MATC or other technical colleges. First generation students are not advised automatically to attend MATC. We look for the best fit for the student and their goals.


What are the reasons for choosing true or false? They need to start somewhere Technical college is best suited for students who are interested in a career that is supported by a technical college degree. Students who attend MATC and complete a certificate or degree program are capable of more than entry-level employment. Most students see MATC as the place to go to obtain specific training/education to step into a profession. These students often seek the education path that prepares them to get a job/career in an efficient, expedient manner.

I have heard parents make statements similar to these: "My son will end up at MATC" or "My daughter is just going to MATC." These statements are consistent with the overall perception of MATC at your high school by parents or students.





What are the reasons for choosing true or false? I hear this all the time It is not that they perceive MATC as a bad option, but they often think tech college is not as challenging from an enrollment standpoint. This is true to a large extent. However, we always correct them by saying they are going to college in an attempt to erode this perception. People also refer to UWM in much the same way. Sometimes I think it is because their student is staying at home and not traveling off to some popular 4-year campus. alternatively, the families of students who plan to attend or attend MATC, they believe that MATC is an appropriate fit for their student. With the economy as it is, some families are turning to MATC for a less expensive beginning to their student's post secondary education. Our parents may say that their student is starting at MATC and then transferring to a 4-year. I don't hear the negative connotations very often


Advising students to attend college is heavily influenced by the following reasons... Scenario 1: This student's parents are graduates from 4-year colleges or beyond. Advise: We would advise this student to attend a 4 year college Scenario 2: This student is the first person to attend college in his / her family. Advise: We would advise this student to attend MATC.


What percentage of your student population attends MATC? (A technical college) 50% 25% 15% 6% 30%

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there seems to be a shift on perception of the benefits offered by community colleges. The general sentiment was that advisors try to determine the student goals and work with them in finding the best fit. These individuals felt that the myths are real, but not deterrents in choosing a college like MATC as their college of choice. Leadership and Service Commitment When the time comes to choose a college, students have endless choices. On the surface, it seems as though student are empowered to decide their own path from among so many choices, they indeed have a chance to pursue whatever they want, wherever they wanted. But trying to make the “right� choice makes them feel inadequate. Often, this time students experience a great deal of pressure from multiple sources and question their instinct, so despite


their inner discomfort, they agree to enroll often in places where they know will be difficult and possibly not a good fit. A recent study suggest that having a structured academic pathway, a student-centered culture and culturally sensitive leadership are three conditions that can help community colleges successfully serve first-generation, low-income students,

There are several forms of service that a community college

leader can initiate and support. One area where I see how my involvement can generate significant interest is to continue to actively pursue relationships with local high schools and four-year institutions, area organizations and neighboring technical colleges. These relationships would help students earn college credits in high school, expose students and their families to the college environment, and create smooth transitions for students into MSTC and later transferring out of the community college. This level of engagement would also better inform the families o the current stats f community colleges facilitating the decision making process by students.

As a Rotarian, I believe on the Rotary motto, Service Above Self, that conveys the humanitarian spirit of the organization and its members. To reach out to those most affected by the decision to attend college, a more direct strategic initiative will be to develop a systematic approach to inform parents, community, advisors and potential students of the success facts as well as the numerous opportunities that community colleges offer. Appendix A identifies some of the myths and the related facts.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

(Alan Kaye) There are three kinds of people in the world: people who make things happen, people who watch


things happen, and people who stand around and say, “What happened?”

(Lola Mae) Even if you are on the right track, if you are just standing there, you are going to be run over.

(Will Rogers) My commitment to the community that we serve will be to lead the effort to inform and reachout as we help students and parents to make informed decisions regarding college choices. By leading and serving in that manner, “things will happen.” The development and implementation of the outreach plan will make us participants in inventing the future.


Comunity College Sstigma  
Comunity College Sstigma  

An investigation