Moving America Forward

This College Is Focused on Helping Its Most Vulnerable Students Graduate

April 18, 2014
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This College Is Focused on Helping Its Most Vulnerable Students Graduate
Baltimore GovPics/Flickr
The Baltimore City Community College doesn’t go by the book in order to increase its students’ success rate.

The White House has set a lofty goal for the United States: To have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. That’s a difficult number to reach — especially because a third of all higher education students need some kind of remedial help, and the percentage of pupils in remedial classes who actually graduate is astonishingly low.

Colleges across the country are trying to change that, and the Baltimore City Community College is a leading example. The college serves a wide range of non-traditional students from Baltimore, including ones like Floria Zobear, 58, who haven’t been to school in decades.

Administrators and professors at the school want their students to succeed. In order for this to happen, they have eradicated some non-credit developmental classes, so students don’t have to spend too much time in the classroom. They’ve also increased support services like tutoring, according to NPR. Plus, they are re-envisioning how class is taught, with some students working online or one-on-one with professors to go over what they’ve missed.

Thomas Bailey, who works at The Community College Research Center at Columbia University (an independent authority on two-year colleges), told NPR that nationally, students can enter college up to four semesters behind in a subject. They need help catching up — and because of good grades in bad high schools, they often don’t even realize they were behind. Bailey’s research center tracks the effectiveness of innovative remedial programs around the country.

Only about a third of first-time, full-time students enter Baltimore City Community College ready for the coursework. Zobear is one of them, but says that she likes the individual attention she gets in the classroom, and she feels like she’s improving in her remedial math class with professor Edward Ennels. She told NPR:

“He’ll say, what do you need help with? And he’ll come back to you individually, so you can understand.”

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