The Completion Agenda and Student Support at MC

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>>So my message
to you, retention. We all should be
trying to figure out how we help students attain
their goals and complete, and to do that we have to keep
them at Montgomery College until they meet their goals,
preferably with a degree or certificate or whatever
their goals might be. [ Music ]>>Jason Rivera: Hi,
I’m Jason Rivera, and this is Campus
Conversations. One of the most common
buzz words in higher education
right now is completion. With me now are Dr.
Deborah Preston, Montgomery College’s Dean for
the Arts, and Susan Madden, the College’s Chief
Government Relations Officer. Susan, I want to start with you. Can you tell me what completion
is and how this all came about?>>Susan Madden: I’m glad
you used the word buzz word because that’s how
I really think of the phrase “completion
agenda”. Because what it’s
really about is about American public higher
education, doing a better job at both access and success. Community colleges, in
particular, have long focused on access, being the
place that prides itself in wide open doors, come see us,
we will meet you where you are and get you started on your
journey to a college degree or training and other
credentials. But what we need to do as part of this completion agenda
is not only focus on access, but focus on success,
not only getting students through the door,
but out the door. Get them in, get them educated,
and get them out and doing it in a more timely
and efficient way. So how did this all start? Well, really it started with two
major foundations out there — the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. They have very strong
social justice missions, and they were worried about underrepresented
students gaining access and then being successful
in higher ed. And then that complemented
with the Obama Administration on the completion of the
agenda really lit a fire on this public policy debate
back in 2008 and 2009. So why did they care
about all of this? They cared because as the
President said the United States lags worldwide in the
number of college graduates. As a technical model we
probably rank fifth in the world with college educated
residents in our nation, but in degree production among
our younger population we’re now fifteenth in the world.>>Jason Rivera: Wow.>>Susan Madden: And so he
said to be able to compete in the global economy
we need to do better on educating our folks. Well, why is that? Because the jobs of the future
are going to require some kind of post secondary education, and the high school diploma
is not going to allow you to earn a living
wage in the nation, much less Montgomery
County, where we are and always have been a
knowledge based economy.>>Jason Rivera: Right.>>Susan Madden: That coupled
with the significant number of Baby Boomers, who
are about to retire, that means we’re going to have
huge job openings and jobs that have been traditionally
not filled by people at the lower rung of the
socioeconomic ladder, minorities, et cetera. And who is in the pipeline
in Montgomery County? First generation college goers, our school population is
now minority, majority.>>Jason Rivera: Right.>>Susan Madden: So we have
to go back to the basics of our access mission
for that community, but then also make a new promise
to them about we’re going to help them succeed, and that’s
what the completion agenda is really about.>>Jason Rivera: So it sounds like this is an educational
movement?>>Susan Madden: Yes,
I like that word.>>Jason Rivera: So how are
we at the college level and, particularly, at the community
college level, maybe, Deborah, you can respond to this? How are we at the community
college level dealing with this idea of completion, given that at the community
college level there are so many different reasons
why people come to us?>>Deborah Preston:
Well, that’s exactly — there are also so many different
reasons people don’t succeed, and many times it
has nothing to do with the person’s innate
ability to do the academic work, there’s so many other factors that can hinder a
student’s progress. Everything from financial,
to family, needing to work, having so many other
obligations, as so many of our community
college students do. And so one of the
things we have to focus on is making sure we have the
right support services in place because they need to
have a place to go to get the extra help,
the extra counseling, the extra financial aid
so that something other than academics doesn’t
become the stopping point.>>Jason Rivera: Right.>>Deborah Preston: And even if they are struggling
academically sometimes we can do a better job of helping them
through tutoring centers, through learning centers,
through mentoring. There are lots of things we
can do once a student is here to help them succeed, to
help them stay on track. Sometimes it’s as simple as
creating a clear plan for them because so often a student who is maybe a first generation
college student comes to college and in high school they’ve
essentially been told what to take.>>Jason Rivera: Right.>>Deborah Preston: And then
they get here and we say, well, there’s all these
things you can do and all these things you can
take, and it can be overwhelming for someone who doesn’t
have sort of a background or older siblings in
college to navigate that. So we also need to do a better
job of helping them figure out what they want to do,
helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel, and helping them make
a plan to get there. That has been shown to be
effective time and time again.>>Jason Rivera: So
what are we doing here at Montgomery College?>>Deborah Preston: Here at
Montgomery College we are, first of all, just refocusing
our attention and energy on the completion agenda,
and that’s a big part of it. We’re also helping
students see the value of getting the associates
degree. I think so often
in the past we — if a student wanted to transfer
with just a few classes we said, great, that’s, you know, we’re
done, they’ve transferred. And instead what we’re trying
to do is help them see the value of an associate’s degree,
help them find pathways that not only get them through
Montgomery College but on to the next institution by creating articulation
agreements, by making — helping them make choices
early in their two-year program that will facilitate
their success in the four-year
program, and thinking about what skills we
need to teach them so that they won’t just be
successful with us, but beyond.>>Jason Rivera: So
we’re really talking about transferrable skills
that they’ll be able to …>>Deborah Preston: Yes,
absolutely, pathways.>>Susan Madden: Deb talked
about the word pathways, and I think, I’m glad you said that because that’s a word
that’s in a new Maryland law.>>Deborah Preston: Yes.>>Susan Madden: I’m not going
to read it because it’s long. The College and Career Readiness
and College Completion Act of 2013, and in that law it
very specifically says not only that higher education
institutions must create pathways for students,
we have to have a student when they first enroll here, first time degree seeking
students must now file what’s called a degree plan, they’ve
got to create that degree plan with their advisor, and then we
have to help them have a pathway from the day they start
till the day they finish. So we’ve got to give them,
as I like to tell my kids about all their school projects, everything has a
beginning, middle, and end. So we have to give that to them
and show them the benchmarks to progress to their
degree or certificate, so.>>Deborah Preston:
And check in with them.>>Susan Madden: Right.>>Deborah Preston: Make
sure they’re hitting those benchmarks.>>Susan Madden: Correct,
and that’s a key obligation within the Bill to checking in,
and if you’re on the precipice of not succeeding or meeting an
appropriate benchmark you have to go see your advisor. The Bill also requires you’ve
got to take your English and Math within the first 24
credit hours, and you have to take your credit class right
after your developmental class.>>Jason Rivera: It
sounds like there’s a lot in that Bill that’s really going to help move the
completion agenda along.>>Susan Madden: Yes.>>Jason Rivera: We’ve come
to the end of our time. Is there a way for people to
find out more about that Bill?>>Susan Madden: Oh, you can go on the Maryland General
Assembly website and type in Senate Bill 740 and it will
pop-up right in front of you. It’s a little bit long. Certainly call me,
e-mail me, susan.madden at montgomerycollege.edu and
I’ll be happy to send you a copy of the Bill or chat
with you about it.>>Jason Rivera: Great. Thank you very much. Registering for college can be
a difficult and winding path. At Montgomery College we hope
to make the path smoother. Marcus Rosano has the details. [ Music ]>>Marcus Rosano: The
College is committed to making sure students
start strong from that very first point
of contact all the way up to graduation, sure montgomerycollege.edu
is an excellent resource, but if students can’t
find answers to their questions we
have people here to help.>>Rima Denham: The Montgomery
College Response Center is the general information line
for Montgomery College. We answer the phone when
you call 240-567-5000. We are able to provide
the community with general information
about the College. We have a lot of information
at our disposal as a resource for providing students with
the answers to their questions. We have our website, which has
a lot of useful information, and published documents
and catalogs. And we have a lot of experience.>>Marcus Rosano: If you are on campus Montgomery
College just recently opened up these brand-new
Welcome Centers that can really help
students navigate their ways. Amy Rozek is the College’s
Director of Student Access, and she’s responsible for getting these
Centers up and running.>>Amy Rozek: We really
only get one chance at a first impression,
so when a student comes into the Welcome Center
I want them to feel that this is a welcoming
environment. The folks are going to smile at
them and help them navigate all of the barriers that
they might see as a first time college student. The Welcome Centers are going to help students navigate
the enrollment process, so aside from general
information and questions about the College, such
as where is this building, what time does my class begin,
it will be providing assistance with the application, going through the financial
aid process, navigating my MC for registration,
giving some assistance in helping select class times,
not necessarily classes, that’s done with a counselor,
but helping a student move from the very beginning
through the point of when they’ll begin classes. We’ve hired eight
wonderful individuals to work in our Welcome Centers
that will be dispersed across the Germantown
Campus, the Rockville Campus, and then we also have a small
Welcome Center in Mannakee. The folks that we’ve
hired have been working within higher education
for many, many years. Many of the folks working in the Welcome Center actually
have either attended MC as a student or have worked
within another department. At any time during a
student’s journey here at MC they’ll have a spot that
they can go and ask somebody, and it’s probably going to be
that nice person that they dealt with as a new student. So if they’re confused, not quite sure what
department do I go to next, come back to the welcome center
and we’ll help them triage and find the way
to be successful. [ Music ]>>Montgomery College’s Start
Smart Information Sessions and this Pamphlet gets students
on the path to completion. The Start Smart Pamphlet is
available at the Counseling and Advising Office and
contains a 10-item checklist for new students. These information sessions help
students get on the right path. If students have chosen
a major they may be able to attend a session
specifically for their major and have the opportunity to
meet with counselors and hear about plugs, special programs,
and scholarship opportunities. And Montgomery College has a
great program designed just for first-year students. It’s a great way to get involved
and enjoy college success.>>The first student experience at Montgomery College is
a series of five things that come together to
help freshman students, whether they start in
the fall or the spring, to navigate the system
of college. The first way is with
new student advising, where they come in, they
sit down with a counselor, they talk to us, they figure out
what courses they need to take. The second thing is new student
orientation, and that is run through the Office
of Student Life.>>The Office of Student Life
College wide really supports students on their
co-curricular journey, so we are the learning
outside of the classroom. We like to provide students
with fun activities, educational activities,
volunteer activities for them to really connect to
the campus in a way that they wouldn’t be
able to do anywhere else. New student orientation
is currently not required, but we strongly encourage
and suggest all of our students to attend. We show them all the different
ways they can connect, whether it’s through our
club program, whether it’s through our service learning
component, or just volunteering on the campus or even off campus
we offer many opportunities out there, so we want to
connect them, we want them to get involved because we know when students get
involved it impacts their success tremendously.>>Next on the list,
first year seminars, this is a one-credit class
that teaches students the in’s and out’s of college
and helps them to put together an
education plan.>>That is a roadmap to
success for our students. It helps them to pick courses
from their first semester through completion so that they
know exactly what they need to take every semester. And then we have programs and
services for our new students, everything from gatherings
to workshops that help them to better understand what
it is they need to do. The research has shown that
students who participate in the DS107 course have
and 83% retention rate versus a 73% retention rate
at the college, as a whole. So they are learning something
that causes them to persist. The bridge college success is
an opportunity for students to get a jumpstart on planning
for their college success. The course, which runs for
two weeks during the summer and for seven weeks
during the fall and spring, is a combination of
the DS107 course, which is the freshmen seminar, and in the summer it has
an enrichment component. We teach them what
they don’t know, how to navigate the college
system, where are the buildings, what type of math is going
to be required for my major, how do I navigate the
chemistry diagnostic, what does it mean to
be a stem student? All of the things that they
wouldn’t necessarily know coming in, we teach them in
the enrichment portion. They visit the Career
Transfer Center, the Financial Aid Office
comes over and speaks to them, so they get a wide breath of the
information that they would need to be successful walking in. So all of these activities get
them involved with faculty, with staff, with other students,
people that they will listen to, people that they can keep coming
back to when times are good to celebrate and when things
start going bad to say, okay, what do I do now? That’s why they’re important because they help
our students persist.>>My best advice for any new
student is to get connected in whichever form
that means for them, so if they have an
hour a week, a month, or if they have more time, but to really connect
to our community.>>Get involved, get
connected, see an advisor. [ Music ]>>Jason Rivera: What
great advice, get involved, get connected and
see an advisor. With me now are two people
who know how the stresses of being pulled in
many directions at once can affect a
student’s ability to persevere and succeed in college. Derek Carter [assumed spelling], the College’s Interim
Athletic Director, and former American
University basketball player, Stephanie Anya. Derek, I want to start with you,
I want you to just, if you can, just give us an idea of
what an athletic program is and what it means for students
here at Montgomery College?>>Derek Carter: Okay,
we compete in the NJCAA, Division Three level of junior
college, and we have 11 sports, and we have opportunities
for student athletes to fulfill their college
dreams and compete in intercollegiate
athletics at a high level. We’ve been very successful,
and we do a great job of developing well-rounded
student athletes and getting them to do the
right thing in the classroom and succeed, both
athletically and academically.>>Jason Rivera: Okay, I
want to talk more about that, this idea of getting them
to succeed in the classroom and athletically,
but you mentioned that there were 11 sports?>>Derek Carter: Yes.>>Jason Rivera: What
are some of those sports?>>Derek Carter: Well, I’ll go
— in the fall we have men’s and women’s soccer,
volleyball, and men’s tennis.>>Jason Rivera: Okay.>>Derek Carter: We transition
during the winter months to men’s, women’s basketball, and then during the
spring we have baseball, softball, and women’s tennis.>>Jason Rivera: Wow,
that’s pretty good.>>Derek Carter: And
indoor, outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s.>>Jason Rivera:
Pretty impressive.>>Derek Carter: Uh-huh.>>Jason Rivera: And, Stephanie,
how do you fit into all of this?>>Stephanie Anya: Well, I played at American
University for four years. I know one of the counselors
here, Ms. Dana Baker, who runs the FYE program,
first year experience.>>Jason Rivera: Okay.>>Stephanie Anya: And I was
a student mentor this summer, and I was predominantly
working with student athletes for the first week, and it’s
kind of a trial one working with eight great student
athletes who range from basketball, to football,
to even individual sports, like equestrian teams,
that kind of stuff.>>Jason Rivera: Okay.>>Stephanie Anya: So I
just worked with them, using both what I know as
being a student athlete, working with time management and
just being helping in your sport with what the FYE
program brings, which is basically
getting ready for college, making that transition.>>Jason Rivera: So you said you
were a student athlete yourself?>>Stephanie Anya: Yes.>>Jason Rivera: What type
of sport did you play?>>Stephanie Anya: Yes,
I played basketball.>>Jason Rivera: Okay, and how
did you balance the academic piece with the athlete
responsibilities?>>Stephanie Anya: Well, I had
always been I guess bright.>>Jason Rivera: Okay.>>Stephanie Anya: Going into college it’s completely
different, it’s not really — you have to be smart, of course, to be able to do all
the time management, especially when you’re
playing a Division One sport. Like it’s like a fulltime job. It’s very difficult to
know, well, I have practice for four hours in the middle
of the day, I have classes in between that, like when am I
going to sleep, when am I going to eat, when am I going to do — have time for fun
because you need to know when you’re in college. So I had to juggle that, and my freshman year I
didn’t do that good of a job.>>Jason Rivera: Okay.>>Stephanie Anya: Like understanding why time
management was so important, but as I grew older, from
sophomore year to senior year, I figured out and I
understood what I needed to do to be successful,
both in the classroom, as well as on the court.>>Jason Rivera: And
you’re able to share that with the athletes
that you mentor now?>>Stephanie Anya: Yes.>>Jason Rivera:
That’s incredible. And so I’m assuming
that’s one part of the way that we provide support
for our student athletes in terms of academics.>>Derek Carter: Sure, sure.>>Jason Rivera: Let’s
talk about some other ways, what are some of the other
ways that we do that?>>Derek Carter: Well, we require our student
athletes their freshmen year to enter study hall, and
that’s a way that we can ensure that they’re paying attention
to what they’re supposed to be doing academically. So, and then we do
mid-semester grade checks, and we try to establish good
relationships with the faculty. So that if we have any
red flags that we need to be aware of, that
we’re notified. And then we monitor,
we ask the coaches to have the right
conversations, to understand how to ask the proper
probing questions of how everyone is doing
academically, and we work well with the other units on
campus, registrar’s office, just to make sure everyone is
enrolled as a fulltime student and that we don’t get any — make any mistakes that
could damage us in terms of anyone’s eligibility.>>Jason Rivera: Now I
know that one of the things that we also do is we get
our student athletes involved in community projects.>>Derek Carter: Sure.>>Jason Rivera:
Tell me a little bit about the community projects
that athletes get involved in?>>Derek Carter: Well, we’re
really trying to expand this. This is something
that I’m committed to, our staff is committed
to, is to get our athletes out into the community to say
these are the great things that we’re doing and
we want the community to be part of our program. It’s a win, win for us,
and we want the community to embrace our student
athletes to say, hey, you guys are doing great
things, and in turn come and watch the athletes
compete athletically and offer support that way. So we look at it as a
win, win for both parts, but it’s important for us to
reach out to the community to show our athletes that
they are role models, that they can be mentors to
young people and continue to set the examples that
we want them to set.>>Jason Rivera:
That’s terrific. So how would an individual
find out about how to support athletes by coming to
a game or any of those things?>>Derek Carter: Well, all
of our athletic schedules are on our website, on our
athletic website, that is part of the college’s website. And then we’re really reaching out through social
media avenues, as well, that is the way to connect to
a lot of people these days. So we have a Facebook, we have a
Twitter account that is active, and all of those sites are
available, and you can see them on our athletic website.>>Jason Rivera:
That sounds great. Is there anything, we’re coming
to the close of our segment, is there anything that you want
to make sure our viewers know about connected to athletics
before we end the session?>>Derek Carter:
Well, what I would like to let the viewers know
is that we are very proud of our accomplishments. We’ve had many teams compete
in national competition, national championships,
but we’re also committed to developing our young
people and preparing them for whatever they want to do when they leave Montgomery
College, whether it’s competing
athletically or just moving on and mainstreaming into the
regular student population at a college or university. But we look at — we
take our job seriously, and we want to prepare
young people for life.>>Jason Rivera: Well,
I appreciate that, and I want to thank
the both of you. Stephanie, for your work
with our athletes and, Derek, for your work with our
coaches and our athletes to make them successful.>>Derek Carter: Thank you.>>Jason Rivera: Some of the most inspiring
stories are those we hear from Montgomery College Alumni. Here’s one of them. [ Music ]>>Kimberly White: I have a
Bachelors Degree in Biology from Coppin State
College in Baltimore. I worked four years at
Uniformed Services University, ran the pathology
department and dual research and really enjoyed
that, really loved that. Along the way I had five
children in a row, and decided, you know, I had to stay home
with my family, so I was home with my family for about five
years, and then the key was to get back into the
workforce quickly. And I accomplished that
with Montgomery College, and the support I got there,
and then also to get a position where someone would pay
for me to go to school, and that’s what I have here. Right now I work as a Research
Specialist at the University of Maryland, it’s the
Brain and Tissue Bank. I actually received the position
here, I got a position a year after I had got into
the program.>>It wasn’t just course
work, but she also, obviously, had the hand-on experience that
I really needed in the lab. She has been really
great to work with. I have placed great
reliance on her to do many different projects,
even develop some new projects that we hadn’t had before, and I have complete
confidence in Kimberly.>>Kimberly White: So then
I was in a dilemma of, well, do I finish because I got
what I wanted, I got the job, and got the experience I
needed, but I really wanted to complete that,
just to have it under my belt to say I did it.>>Kimberly T. White.>>Kimberly White: So
I graduated in 2012 and I received an Associates in Applied Science
and Biotechnology. I’m working on my Masters
Degree at UMBC, taking a class at a time there, the Masters of
Professional Science Program. Then I’m taking in the evening, and I’m taking one
class a semester. And then, also, crazy like I
am, I’m doing another program at Walden University online, and that’s a Clinical
Research Administrations job. So it leads me and
it gives me more of the clinical research
atmosphere about the protocols, but it’s more running
the clinical program. I didn’t think I would be here
doing pediatric brain research at 46, but I am, and it’s
like a full circle for me, and it’s just — it empowers me
to want to — I love to learn, so to keep on trying
and go for your goals. I don’t pay any tuition
for my graduate school, and all my kids get to
go to school for free. So it’s awesome, yes, any
U.S. enrollment school, so it’s a really good
opportunity for them and, you know, feel like I kind
of made things happen. [ Music ]>>Jason Rivera: Marcus, Kimberly White is
a great example of student success
and perseverance.>>Marcus Rosano: She really
is, and that brings us to the closing of our
completion agenda. Unfortunately, the
numbers don’t lie, Jason, we are getting our butts
kicked internationally. Right now, 39% of Americans
have attained post secondary credentials, associates
degrees, bachelor’s degrees. We are moving way down
the list internationally, but in the completion
agenda they’re targeting by 2020 nationally to have 50%
so we have to raise that number of 39%, 11% by 2020, and in Maryland we’re
even upping the ante, we’re targeting 55%
completion rate of post secondary credentials
in the State of Maryland.>>Jason Rivera: Right, and
complicating that even further, all the statistics
for our low income and our minority students,
which are drastically low.>>Marcus Rosano: The numbers
are scary when it comes to low income and
minority students. By 2040, 2045 the
minority population in the United States is
going to become the majority, but at Montgomery
College that is the case, that is what’s happening now. So why wouldn’t we, as an
institution, lead the charge for the completion agenda,
and getting students ready, and getting students
the success rates up. And Kimberly White,
as we just have seen, is a wonderful example of this,
and she truly is a role model and a model of success.>>Jason Rivera: Absolutely. From all of us here at
Campus Conversation, thanks for watching. [ Music ]

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