Many people view community colleges as a place to take classes to transfer to 4-year universities.
However, our best deals are our degree programs: these complete packages are worth a whole lot greater than the sum of the parts.
In the November SciMath school meeting, I pushed the idea of promoting the degree programs in our school. Here are five reasons.
(1) Sense of belonging or commitment. Students do better when they have a sense of commitment. (Which student sounds more committed: "I am taking a math class" or "I am working on a math degree"?)
(2) Better advising and connection. We want to nurture all of our students, but some students are easy to miss, like those who are just visiting. Even for them, there is great benefit to sign up for a major, such as access to advising, internship and scholarship opportunity, etc.
(3) Broad field majors. A broad field major consists of a set of core classes and particular sets of electives tailored for different 4-year transfers. Students get a degree and the customized set of courses for their 4-year destinations, not just an assortment of classes.
(4) Ahhhh the power of transfer pathways. Minnesota transfer pathways are universal articulation agreements within the entire Minn State System. Every institution, public or private, is trying to grab students through these pathways. Furthermore, many pathways lead to multiple 4-year programs. For example, Metro State has FIVE programs that take students from the same biology pathway: Biology BS and BA, Biochemistry, Environmental Science and Science Ed.
(5) Better planning for the school. It's easier to schedule classes knowing students are returning, and it makes sense that we focus our resources on our majors. For example, if we run a class with 8 students, which statement makes a better case?
- These 8 students need the class to get their degrees with us, or
- These 8 students are visiting students who can get the course elsewhere.
So, next time when you have an undeclared student, let's try this:
- I know you plant to go to the U to study chemistry, but I'd like to invite you to join our chemistry major.
- Sign up for a biology major and receive information about scholarship and internship opportunities!
- (Your best sales pitch.)
Dr. Ben Weng