Should You Attend A Community College or a University?

The choice between attending a community college or a university depends on many factors, such as your plan for higher education and the requirements for admission.

Despite the advantages of community colleges, many students still prefer to attend 4-year universities. They offer a variety of facilities and a more rounded student life. Community colleges usually have 2-year programs that allow students to transfer their associate’s degree to a full university.

Both types of higher education institutions are valid, how do you pick the right one for you? Here are some of the differences between community colleges and universities to help you decide.

Degree Programs

While a community college’s degree programs typically take two years to complete, most four-year universities require students to take general education courses for their first two years.

Some students may choose to take the two years of general education at a community college instead of going to a traditional university. Doing so saves them from having to take many of the same courses in the first year. This can also allow you to save money, as community college courses can often be less expensive.

Student Life

Although community colleges are usually cheaper than universities, they do not have the same level of resources as their four-year counterparts. This means that many students do not have the opportunity to participate in the typical college experience of living on campus or participating in campus life.

If you’re choosing to do 2 years at a community college in order to complete your general education requirements, you may struggle to adapt to university life due to not having entered the university at the same time as your peers. 

Class Size

Most community colleges have small class sizes, which allows for more interaction in the classroom. However, many of their faculty members are employed part-time, which makes it hard for students to have access to their professors. With bigger universities, it can often be the opposite. Your professor may be full-time, but you’re often in bigger classrooms that can range between 40 to 100 students at times. This can lead to a less personalized experience and even the possibility that your professor won’t even know who you are off the top of their head.

Flexibility

Compared to traditional universities, community colleges have a much more diverse student body. They typically have a student body that ranges from 17 to 60 years old, and the average age is around 30. Due to the varying types of students, community colleges are often much more flexible when it comes to your situation. Community colleges often offer more night classes or are more understanding if you have a job or a child at home that affects your attendance.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.com

The Highest Rated Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S.

The U.S. News has released its top five liberal arts colleges in the United States.

One notable change in this year’s rankings is the decreased emphasis on standardized test scores. Given the fluctuation in requirements for standardized tests, the report put less stock in those scores.

Taking into consideration factors like class size, acceptance rates, and student outcomes, the list includes four schools from the Northeast and one from California. Schools on the list have small class sizes in common among them. Other factors include faculty resources, expert opinion, financial resources, student excellence, and alumni giving.

Institutions on this list also have a leg up regarding social mobility. That is, the schools all score well on the improvement of their graduates’ circumstances after graduation. That is measured by comparing the status of pell grant recipients after they graduate. The Pell Grant program is reserved for undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need.

Here are the top five liberal arts colleges in the United States:

Williams College

Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College boasts an acceptance rate of only fifteen percent. Williams College graduates join an alumni body full of influential people, including President James Garfield.

Amherst College

Also located in Massachusetts, Amherst College welcomed an inimitable freshman class. Eighty-five percent of incoming freshmen ranked in the top ten percent of their high school classes.

Swarthmore College

In the Philadelphia suburbs, Swarthmore College is ranked as the third-best liberal arts college in the United States. Swarthmore College was founded in 1864 and is one of the earliest co-educational institutions in the country.

Pomona College

Pomona College is the lone entry to the top five list from outside the Northeast. With an acceptance rate of only nine percent, Pomona is one of the most selective institutions in the country. Pomona is also notable for its commitment to diversity in its student body. It has been widely recognized for its intentionality in reaching out to lower-income and first-generation college students in its admissions efforts.

Wellesley College

Wellesley College is a women’s college located in Massachusetts. Wellesley grads join an impressive roster of alumnae, including former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the first female Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org

How Adult Students are Growing Higher Education

A USA Today interview with the VP of New Partner Development at the Wiley Education Services, Gene Murray revealed adult learners have different needs from teenagers, who were the bulk of traditional students in the past years. They are prompting higher institutions of education to change their models.

Below are the key points from Murray’s interview.

Provision of Learner Tailored Program

The method of instruction at institutions develops with time. Specialization to provide prompts information and is one of the ways how adult students are growing higher education. Higher education providers have tremendous expertise in subject matters, placing them as designated institutions for learners who want to progress academically. The current adult learning population does not focus on broader knowledge but specific skills that advance their career.

The main focus of these learners is to attain ongoing education that instills specific skills to advance in technology, healthcare, teaching, or other professions. Today’s adult learners focus on finding opportunities matching their specific careers because of commitments that limit time and flexibility. Institutions that provide learning opportunities were challenged to align their programs with their adult learners’ personal responsibilities and career paths.

Customization of Programs to Suit Learner Preferences

Adult learners have deviated from studying for an undergraduate then a master’s to gain a full degree. Institutions have been forced to rethink their models to accommodate this class that requires ongoing education for professional career advancement certification. Traditional learning experiences that did not address the unique needs of learners compelled higher education institutions to change their delivery and meet the following requirements:

  • Flexibility to accommodative work or family responsibilities
  • Allow faster completion (with cost consideration in place)
  • Deliver specific skills that contribute to career advancement

Introduction of Remote Learning Technology

Traditional learning requires in-person attendance for students and instructors. The need to personalize lessons for today’s adult learners led to the introduction of technology in classrooms. The change came to be since many adult learners are frequently away from campus, and their needs are different from a conventional 18-year-old. It is harder to engage them. Higher education institutions are adopting technology tools like behavioral analytics. The tools have information and means to facilitate institutions to communicate better with adult learners on their terms to improve persistence.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org

AI in Higher Education

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in higher education is not new. Some schools have been using plagiarism-detection software like Turnitin for over a decade. What is new is the many ways that AI is being employed. It is now routinely used to predict potential student success, facilitate admissions decisions, encourage choosing a particular school, and even acts in the role of a traditional (human) teaching assistant.

AI is now being used in higher education to aid in admissions and financial aid decisions. Some colleges and universities use it to score student personality traits based on student-submitted videos. Other schools use AI software to predict the success of prospective students. AI is even used to review applications to some graduate schools.

Some colleges and universities use AI to encourage accepted students to place a deposit, essentially committing them to attend through the use of chatbots and text messaging systems.

Once a student is enrolled, the use of AI continues. Universities use it to monitor student activities that aid learning, answer student questions about coursework, and even determine what mode of online instruction would benefit a student the most based on student data. Oftentimes students are unaware that they are engaging with a computer program rather than a live human.

The use of AI in higher education does not come without its detractors. Many university professors have long opposed the use of plagiarism-detection software like Turnitin or machine scoring of student writing. Scholars at MIT, for example, wrote a nonsense essay that nonetheless scored highly on an AI-driven assessment platform. Other studies have shown similar results.

Despite any drawbacks to the use of AI in higher education, it’s unlikely to be disappearing from the scene anytime soon. AI can reduce the time it takes for colleges and universities to complete some of the rote and tedious non-academic work necessary to run institutions. It can also be used smartly to use data about individual student learning to boost performance and increase overall student success and retention. As more and more universities work to develop their own versions of AI that are tailored to their student populations’ needs, the software will become more effective in doing the work higher education requires of it.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org

How to Support Those Directly Impacted by Covid-19

Since the beginning of 2020, the world has experienced a dangerous outbreak of the COVID-19. A virus that started in Wuhan, China, has spread worldwide, killing people as it disrupts people’s social, economic, and political lives. The numerous deaths and changes of customary burial practices have left victims psychologically, emotionally, and mentally hurt.
The following are ways in which COVID-19 victims can get support in overcoming the trauma:1. Explore safe ways in which patients and loved ones may get contact.
Up-to-date and accurate information regarding the family’s risk during contact with the patient should be made available. Such connections are essential since COVID-19 patients require psychological support from their families. Psychological counseling to victims will help them face reality.

2. Role of spiritual advisors, religious leaders, and local leaders.
The health practitioners should work closely with the community leaders and religious leaders in exploring alternative practices that will allow physical distancing during the funeral process. Some communities may become resistant to the authority’s measures; hence, religious and local leaders’ involvement in coming up with an amicable solution. The process must incorporate the religious and cultural values of the people.

3. Provision of end-of-life companionship by Health workers to those without close relatives.
Some of the victims of the COVID -19 have got no close relatives to give them emotional support. The health care system should come up with an end-of-life companionship program to support those in critical conditions.

4. Open and transparent communication with the family of the deceased.
Open and transparent communication with the family of the deceased helps in eliminating any uncertainty that may arise. It also helps reduce the psychological and emotional effects on the bereaved.
The family members, community, and religious leaders should get all the information on the planned care protocols, but they should be allowed to identify the burial sites.

5. Strengthening of the physical, administrative, and human resources for local mortuaries.
Strengthening of the local mortuary capacities is an urgent matter as they have never faced such a pandemic. Caring for the deceased should also be enhanced to reduce the emotional stress on their families. There should be proper handling of the deceased in a manner that will accord them the necessary respect.

6. Proper psychological support systems for Health care workers.
Health care practitioners exposed to high mortality rates are becoming stressed; hence need to be supported emotionally. Counseling services are, therefore, essential for health workers.

It is the role of everyone in the community to support those affected by COVID-19. The media plays a very vital role in reporting about the pandemic. Credible journalism is very critical as some sensitive images have a huge psychological impact on the victims. However, media influence will help reduce the spread of the pandemic.

How Educators Can Prepare For The New School Year

With the 2020 – 2021 school year starting soon or having already started in some places, it’s time for teachers and professors around the country to make sure they’re prepared for the year to come. Teaching isn’t an easy profession and there are countless aspects that go into it, from lesson plans to supplies and everything in between. This year, in particular, is especially unique due to the COVID-19 pandemic still deeply affecting our country, meaning that in many places teachers are either doing remote learning or some type of remote/in-person hybrid. Something like this is new to the current generation of educators, and it’s understandable if they don’t know how to approach the situation. Here are a few ways educators can prepare for the new school year.

Communicate With Your Class Early On

In order to make the teaching and learning experience smoother for everyone involved, it’s best to stay on top of communication with your students or their parents, especially in the times we’re living in. Consider your options for reaching out to everyone – if you’re a college professor, you can likely email your students their syllabus and any important information they may need a week or two before class starts, giving them plenty of time to read materials over and reach out if they have any questions. If you’re teaching younger students, you’re likely better off reaching out to their parents. This can be done via email, but it might be better for you to reach out with a phone call in order to introduce yourself and ensure everyone is in the know when it comes to your class.

Check Out Your Old Lesson Plans

One of the best things about being an educator is that with each new year or semester, you effectively get to start all over again. This means you can take a look at your previous years teaching and apply what worked while leaving what didn’t work at the door. Being an educator often involves a lot of trial and error, and not every lesson will stick with your students. The fact that you get to take on a new group of students each year means you start fresh and employ new ideas.

Discuss With Your Fellow Educators

One of the few great things about how the pandemic is affecting education is that no teacher is alone. There are educators all over the country who are in situations just like yours, and most of us are figuring it out as we go. With so many peers who understand what you’re going through, a good way to prepare for the new year is to talk to your fellow educators and determine what they’re doing, and what might work for you. Share your various ideas and experiences and perhaps you may come out with a brand new idea that might make this year that much more impactful for you and your students.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org

Tips To Help You Pass Your Online Classes

Over the past few years we’ve seen a rise in popularity when it comes to taking college courses online. They’re great if you’re attending college later in life while working a full time job or raising children, and can also be useful when taking classes over winter and summer breaks. With the world being so heavily affected by COVID-19 this year, it’s possible that we may see a rise in students taking online college courses this coming semester. Some schools are even making all of their courses online for certain periods of the semester, such as the time between Thanksgiving and when the semester ends. Here are a few tips to help students pass their online classes.

Treat It Like An In Person Class

Just because you’re taking a class on your laptop from the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you should treat it any differently than a regular class. It can be difficult to get into a classroom mentality from home, but it’s important that you have the discipline to sit down and eliminate all outside distractions so you can get the work done and get it done on time. You have to “show up” to class just like you would if you went to a physical space for it. Remember that you’re paying for this class, just like you would a regular college course. Just because it’s an online class doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult or require your complete attention.

Eliminate Distractions

To build off of the previous point, it’s important that you eliminate all outside distractions. This can be especially difficult when learning from home. The first step is to establish your work space while learning from home. This space will be different for everybody. If things such as your television or kitchen easily distract you, be sure to set up in a room not near them so they don’t take you away from your work. If this is the first time you’ve taken an online course from home, you may not know what workspace is best for you. Be prepared for experimentation, as there may be some trial and error in the whole process. Just be sure to have a great Internet connection and you should be fine.

Participation is Key

One of the most difficult parts of learning from home is participation. Since you’re not in a classroom being lectured by a professor with your fellow classmates in the traditional sense, it can be easy to shut your brain off and just absorb the materials as opposed to actively asking questions and engaging in discussions about the content. Luckily, online classes typically have some type of forum aspect where the professor will ask questions as part of your assignments and everyone must engage. These forums can be a great way to get different perspectives on the content or make sure you fully understand the material you’re learning about.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org

How COVID-19 Might Change Education

Since the novel corona virus began to affect American Society back in March, schools not only across the country but around the world were shut down in order to keep everyone at home in order to flatten the curve. Students have been forced to resume education via the internet from the comfort of their homes, and many parents have suddenly become first time teachers. This can be stressful for both the parents and the children, and no matter how you slice it, the children will likely fall behind. Educators have been talking about looking into rethinking the way we educate for a while now and this pandemic may be the perfect excuse to begin doing something about it. So how might COVID-19 affect how we approach education?

More Online Learning

Since most if not all school have now implemented some form of online learning, it stands to reason that once things go back to normal it will continue to be an invaluable tool. Most students will have laptops or access to computer hardware, making it possible to give their lessons to them if they’re ever able to not make it to school or if something akin to this pandemic were to happen again. Teachers will also begin to get used to these new tools and technologies they’ve been using, meaning they may want to continue to do so. They can even be used in the classroom themselves, as opposed to only when the students aren’t in class.

A Potential Shift To Competency Based Learning

Many education experts believe that shifting to competency based learning might be the best way to approach education after the pandemic. Competency learning allows students to learn at their own pace and is “personalized” for each individual, but it also atomizes learning and heavily depends on taking standardized tests. If this does happen, it seems it might be used to see which students move to the next grade given the school year being cut short due to the pandemic.

Homeschooling May Become More Popular

It’s possible that some parents and students may feel that homeschooling has worked in their favor, allowing them to bond together while learning in a comfortable environment. Many will become accustomed to learning from home, and many parents may want to continue educating their children. Unfortunately, this won’t happen to the bulk of families as many cannot afford or make the time to educate their children while also taking care of a home and working a full time job.

This article was originally published on MarilynGardnerMilton.org