Dear Commons Community,
Last Thursday, “The Wall Street Journal” had an article featuring City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, better known as ASAP. The article briefly describes the program but more importantly highlights the fact that it is being replicated throughout the country in one form or another. Here is an excerpt:
“City University of New York figured out how to double its community-college graduation rate for some students. Now it is sharing the secret sauce with schools in Ohio, California and elsewhere.
Skyline College in San Bruno, Calif., and Westchester Community College in New York will pilot versions of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, this fall, while Ohio’s governor is angling for funding to expand that state’s replication project to nine institutions from its current three sites.
Nearly six in 10 students who started at CUNY two-year schools between 2007 and 2013 and participated in ASAP graduated within three years—often while working and caring for families. Those who didn’t participate, but had similar backgrounds, had just a 28% likelihood of completing their degrees in that time frame.
CUNY administrators peg the success at campuses including LaGuardia Community College and Borough of Manhattan Community College in large part to “intrusive advising,” or hyper-involved staffers who help students enroll in the right courses and stay on track. Relieving students of extra costs for transit and books is also crucial, they say.
The adoption of CUNY’s model comes as community colleges try to boost often abysmal graduation rates, while out-of-pocket costs for students increase and enrollments sink. School officials say getting better is a necessity, otherwise states could pull funding and students will look elsewhere for a decent return on their investment. Nationally, 39% of first-time students at community colleges got a credential from a two- or four-year school within six years; poor students fared even worse.
“They’re hemorrhaging students every single step of the way,” said Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center, at Columbia University’s Teachers College. While community colleges have delivered on their mission to offer low-cost access to education, he said, they often fail to get students to the finish line.
Since launching nearly a decade ago at its six community colleges in the sprawling City University of New York system, ASAP now enrolls 15,000 students across nine campuses. Participants must take at least 12 credits each in fall and spring, and often winter and summer classes as well, sign up for remedial courses and tutoring when necessary and participate in career development programs and monthly academic advising sessions. In exchange, they get tuition waivers, free subway passes, textbooks and help with course enrollment to keep them on track. Full-time tuition at CUNY’s community colleges is $4,800 a year for in-state students, and books and transit are estimated to cost another $2,400.”
Kudos for CUNY and those who developed ASAP, although I was surprised that Guttman Community College which is based entirely on the ASAP model, was not mentioned.