Friday Fragments | Confessions of a Community College Dean
Friday Fragments | Confessions of a Community College Dean

In response to the piece earlier this week about students building mix-and-match schedules (between online and on-site classes), an alert reader responded,

“While many assume that students in online classes would prefer online tutoring, I have not found a strong correlation between our online students and online tutoring usage, or a preference among students taking face to face classes for meeting with a tutor in person. Here is what I see: some students prioritize taking a class residentially, and this means they often arrive right before class and need to rush out immediately after class (usually to work). They can’t stay on campus longer to meet with a tutor in person, so they use online tutoring. Other students take online classes but are nervous about the experience, so meeting with a tutor face-to-face serves as their connection to campus during those terms.”

I had to admit, it hadn’t occurred to me to see if there was any empirical work looking at the correlation, or not, between preferences for online classes and preferences for online tutoring. It’s a great question. Does anybody know?

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Enrollment is a sensitive subject these days, so I won’t go too deeply into it other than to say that in 2020, summer was up and fall was down. Right now, for 2021, summer is down and fall is up. My counterparts across the state have largely noticed the same thing.

All else being equal, fall matters a lot more than summer, just by sheer size. And we’re still dragging well behind where we were for fall 2019 at this point. But I take some encouragement from seeing signs of recovery, even if they aren’t as powerful yet as I would have preferred.

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If you haven’t seen it, Alison Kadlec and Elyse Ashburn’s piece on community college transfer students is worth the read.

Briefly, they note that many of the “accountability” measures on which four-year schools are judged don’t include community college transfers at all. That’s a strange oversight, though it makes sense in the context of history. From a four-year school’s perspective, for a long time, community college transfer students just sort of appeared. But with community college enrollments having dropped, and with our students having been hit particularly hard by economic dislocations, that taken-for-granted stream may start to dry up.

Treating transfer students right was always the right thing to do, but now it’s also becoming the self-interested thing to do. That gives me hope. Honestly, four-year schools should actively recruit transfer students because transfer students -- especially those who graduated first -- have shown the ability to complete an academic program. That bodes well for their ability to finish another one.

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From the “Unclear on the Concept” files:

This week we got a complaint from a “ghostwriter” who claims to have been hired by a student here to write a paper for her. He claims she didn’t pay him, so he expects us to pay him.

I am not making this up.



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