The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation presents key findings from its Community College Transfer Initiative and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) suggests ways to reduce barriers for women in community colleges.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provided $6.8 million to eight highly selective four-year institutions to “enable the institutions to foster programs, policies, and partnerships with community colleges to improve student preparation, assistance with admission and financial aid processes, orientation and ‘bridge’ programs, and post-admission support.” The report suggests that the partnerships between two- and four-year institutions forged as a result of the Community College Transfer Initiative benefited all parties involved. Such benefits include expended educational opportunities for students that transformed the lives of students, more thoughtful transfer systems and an enriched transfer culture at the community colleges, and increased cross-campus collaboration and support for transfer students at the four-year institutions. The report also presents some key lessons learned to help increase access and success for transfer students, such as:
· High levels of institutional readiness and buy-in are associated with more effective and sustainable programs. “Paving the way” may be as important as program design;
· The most effective and sustainable programs had the most robust partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions; and
· The most successful programs continually assessed how things were working and used data to improve the programs and sustain success.
While the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation focused on promising practices derived from the Community College Transfer Initiative, the AAUW report focused on the state of women in community colleges. In the report, Women in Community College: Access to Success, the authors present a general overview of the approximately 4 million women enrolled in community colleges across the country—a quarter of which are mothers. The findings of the study suggest that two areas of interest need to be addressed in order to ensure “a reliable path to opportunity and economic security” for women:
1) limited access to child care disrupts the educational path of many mothers, and
2) women in community colleges tend to pursue traditionally female occupations (i.e. nursing, education, and cosmetology) and are underrepresented in STEM fields.
The authors of the report suggest that increased attention to issues of women, particularly increased access to child care and more thoughtful outreach efforts, will strengthen the path to equitable educational outcomes.