The Commission for Student Development in the Two-Year College is directly concerned with issues relevant to student development programs at two-year institutions. Additionally, it is designed to promote the improvement of student development programs; enhance the professional development of student development personnel; and serve as an advocate for student development programs at two-year institutions.
The current topics in the field are:
The Completion Agenda
- As reported by the American Association of Community Colleges in 2011 the number of students entering community colleges has leveled off and as a result institutions can no longer utilize extra tuition dollars to off- set the diminished funds from their local and state entities. Two-year colleges are still experience high levels of enrollment however without growth in enrollment institutional budgets are lagging. As a result program cuts are taking place, faculty and student affairs professional positions are not being replaced after retirement, and support staff positions are being eliminated.
- The president’s education agenda turns to community colleges to educate an additional 5 million students by 2020 to prepare them for the changing workforce. In order to realize this goal community colleges must increase their retention and completion rates. This is no easy task for community colleges. With a renewed commitment to open access community colleges enroll more students underprepared for college coursework, students who regularly stop-out, students who attend part-time, students who are parents, students from low SES background, students uninterested in earning a degree and students unsure of future goals. Each of these attributes creates risk for student success and college completion.
The American Association of Community Colleges has set forth recommendations for institutions to support the president’s agenda and increase retention and graduation rates. Two of the suggestions can be incorporated into the professional development work of ACPA. The first is to enhance student services. Through ACPA and the ACPA Commission for Student Development in the Two-Year College we can offer more professional development opportunities for two-year college professionals focused on support of the completion agenda amidst tight budget constraints. Areas and topics that we can address include early alert systems, orientation content and delivery, and the process of student advisement with a focus on the transfer process. The second suggestion that we can support is improved student engagement. A challenge to the two-year system as primarily commuter based institutions student engagement can be redefined to include student to student outreach via phone, text, Facebook and Twitter. We can support institutions in new thinking about the role of family based programming on campus and engagement programs for first-generation college students specifically.
ACPA and the ACPA Commission for Student Development in the Two-Year College has the expertise and tools to provide this type of support through professional development opportunities. We will need to spend time on improving our relationship with two-year college professionals so that we can be viewed as a viable pathway to meaningful professional development focused on community college needs.