Creating an On-Ramp
from High School
to College
…of traditional-age entering students
responding to the Survey of Entering
Student Engagement say they believe they
have the motivation to do what it takes to
succeed in college.
Looking ahead…what will
college be like?
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I Have a Goal!
On the SENSE survey, traditional-age entering
students say…
78% want to obtain an associate degree.
79% want to transfer to a four-year institution.
61% want to complete a certificate program.
Where am I heading?
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…of traditional-age entering students
responding to the SENSE survey say
they’re academically prepared for
I think I’m ready…
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of traditional-age entering students
responding to the SENSE survey
learned that they are not ready for
college-level courses that require
skills in reading, writing and/or math...
The challenges of dev ed…
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Was I ready for college?
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New students 18-24 years of age…
• More attend full-time
• Work fewer hours than older
• Have fewer family responsibilities
Yet… they spend less time preparing
for class.
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During the first 3 weeks of community college,
students 18-24 years old …
• 46% came to class unprepared at
least once.
• 28% skipped class at least once.
• 29% did not turn in an assignment
at least once.
Younger community college students are
more likely to…
Turn in an assignment late
Not turn in an assignment
Come to class unprepared
Skip class
drop out before the beginning of their
second year.
David Conley, Distinguished Professor, University
of Oregon:
 “Nobody manages the transition very well. For
most institutions of higher education, it isn't a
transition at all. The student just shows
up…there is very little process or systematic
thought for what is going on for the student in
terms of all the dimensions that are required to
make that transition.”
SENSE Benchmarks
for Effective Educational Practice
Early Connections
High Expectations & Aspirations
Clear Academic Plan & Pathway
Effective Track to College Readiness
Engaged Learning
Academic & Social Support Network
Welcome to college!
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We wear them down…
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Students don’t know what
they don’t know…
but we think they
should…and behave as
though they do!
The students in our focus groups
who reported the best
experience registering at their
college had something in
What was it?
Creating an on-ramp to college…
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…of younger entering community college
students say they never saw an advisor
during their first three weeks.
37% for non-traditional-aged students
SENSE 2011 Cohort Data
Younger students are less likely to…
Use academic advising and planning
They ask their friends what to do…
53% vs. 42% for older students
SENSE 2011 Cohort Data
I have an advisor…
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What 18-24 year old new community
college students are telling us:
• 28% enrolled in a class designed to
teach them the skills needed to
succeed in college.
Creating an on-ramp to college…
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Some students find the on-ramp to
college while they are still in high
Creating an on-ramp to college…
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What makes a class a good class?
Is this learning?
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This is learning!
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Creating an on-ramp to college…
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Creating an on-ramp to college…
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Younger community college students are
less likely to…
Go to a tutor
Go to math, English and computer labs
Ask an instructor for help
Discuss an assignment or grade with an
In high school, I needed help…
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In college, I need help, but…
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Students don’t
do optional!!
Will James return to college?
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What questions does the information
raise for you?
What is one thing you and the college
can do to address these findings?
Collaborating to create change:
 El Paso Community College
 League for Innovation -- Significant
El Paso Community College
College Readiness Initiative – Placement test and
refresher courses while in high school
Summer Bridge Program -- Improve basic skills
More students college-ready, more place in
highest level of developmental math
Students by-passing developmental
courses or spending less time in them
Houston Community College
Student Success Class
Fall to spring persistence increased for all
groups except Asian students, which remained
constant at 78%.
Largest gain has been for African American
students – from 69% to 75%.
Skagit Valley College Pilot Fall-Winter
Stand Alone
Dev LC
C-E Dev LC
Zane State
Mandatory testing & placement, mandatory
orientation, mandatory FYE course, mandatory
advising for at-risk students
3-year mandatory FYE course associated with
10% increase in fall-to-fall persistence.
3-year graduation rate for developmental
students now exceeds 50%.
What Matters Most
for Student Success?
Some Observations about Entering
• Students experience culture shock and
academic shock.
• Students don’t know what they don’t
know…but we expect them to!
• You have to ask to be told…but what if
you don’t know what to ask?
What does this mean for community college
• Create an “on-ramp” to college life.
• Show students the relevance of what they’re
doing – help them understand the “what” and the
• Make everything more personal – show them we
• If we know what students need –
make it mandatory!
High Performing Colleges
…make student engagement
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Arleen Arnsparger,
Project Manager
Initiative on Student
Center for Community
College Student
Engagement (CCCSE)

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