Innovative program will make 4-year degree more affordable
April 21, 2009
Harrisburg - While many ideas on making college more affordable are swirling around, HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, and Dickinson College in Carlisle are doing something about it: The Community College Partnership Program merges the strengths of two different categories of institutions, a community college and a private, national liberal arts college, to create a new model of higher education -- one that offers students a quality four-year education at a reasonable price.
Students will pay two years of community college tuition, and two years at Dickinson’s higher tuition, but with an academic scholarship of up to $15,000—plus other grants and financial aid—to meet fully their demonstrated need.
“Dickinson and other private Northeast liberal-arts colleges must look beyond high schools as the traditional source of new students,” said Dickinson College President William G. Durden, Ph.D., during today’s signing of a memorandum of understanding (MUO) between HACC and Dickinson. “There is an existing partner ready to collaborate with institutions, such as Dickinson, to help its students succeed. It is the American community college, right in our backyard,” he said.
“We applaud the opportunity that HACC is bringing to high school graduates by expanding its existing honors program to include this new partnership with Dickinson College,” he added. “We are working with our neighbor to bring quality, affordable higher education to the region.”
HACC President Edna V. Baehre, Ph.D., said, “This agreement provides another opportunity for our students of high academic achievement to pursue completion of a four-year degree at a private institution after earning an associate degree at HACC. This new program expands on the dual admissions agreements that HACC already has with other four-year institutions and will provide a great opportunity for some of our honors students to consider going to Dickinson.”
With more students across the nation likely to begin their four-year college experience at a community college, Baehre called Dickinson’s partnership program a “brilliant” move that will help meet the needs of those aspiring to further their higher education at a four-year college.
The benefits of The Community College Partnership Program go well beyond typical articulation agreements between community and four-year colleges. This new model takes an active, coordinated and structured approach that is distinctive in two key areas. The first is interested students are identified early so HACC and Dickinson staff, working together, can ensure the selected students receive the support, coaching and course work needed to transfer and be successful. The other is the financial incentives from Dickinson, in the form of a community college scholarship and financial aid, to ensure that tuition is neither a deterrent nor obstacle.
In addition to HACC, Dickinson has initially established relationships with Northampton Community College in eastern Pennsylvania and two two-year institutions in Maryland—Howard Community College and Montgomery Community College, with the goal of expanding it to up to 15, with half in the Mid-Atlantic states and half in other areas of the country where Dickinson recruits first-year students.
The program will launch with four or five honors program students from each of the four pilot community college partners. Potential matriculants must earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 and graduate with a transferable associate degree to enable students to matriculate with junior status and complete a bachelor’s of arts or sciences degree at Dickinson in two years.
Students will enter Dickinson as a group, a strategy that is similar to other cohort groups on campus. The idea is that students adjust and perform better when they have a built-in support system and all the members are going through a similar experience.
“As community colleges have developed selective honors programs, more students who would have previously begun at a four-year colleges are instead beginning their higher education at a community college,” said Robert J. Massa, Ed.D., vice president for enrollment and college relations at Dickinson. In the U.S., demographic changes forecast that over the next 10 years community colleges will need to educate an increasing number of lower income, first generation and minority students. Those same demographic shifts will affect private four-year colleges, as these students are less likely to consider these institutions or to enroll as first-year students.
Massa first envisioned the idea of The Community College Partnership Program during his 2007-08 participation in the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program. It was during his fellowship at HACC that he initiated the framework for a new selective honors program and the idea for The Community College Partnership Program.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, was established in 1964 as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s first community college. Since then, HACC has grown to include more than 20,000 credit students in an eight-county area at campuses in Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York. Students who choose to study in any of HACC’s Liberal Arts programs receive instruction from a highly qualified and engaged faculty who provide creative, top-notch instruction and diversity of ideas and opinions to develop well-rounded, academically outstanding students prepared to successfully continue their education beyond HACC. Honors students benefit from small classes in an intense, yet supportive atmosphere, student-centered discussions and independent research, and a chance to work with innovative professors whose educational credentials and aggressive pursuit of additional knowledge provide an exciting atmosphere for interdisciplinary learning. HACC has established the Scholars Honors program in partnership with participating four-year institutions to provide further educational opportunities to HACC graduates who achieve a minimum 3.25 grade point average and complete all the requirements of the program. Successful Scholars Honors graduates will be able to take advantage of HACC’s more affordable tuition and fees the first two years of their college experience at a time when families are faced with growing economic challenges. HACC Honors graduates qualify for additional scholarships at transfer schools. HACC already partners with many of the region’s four-year institutions with dual admissions agreements and articulation agreements that allow students to seamlessly transition from HACC to the four-year institution. HACC is home to Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, the national honor fraternity serving two-year colleges. HACC’s Alpha Nu Omega chapter of PTK is a national award-winning organization recognizes and encourages scholarship and provides opportunities for leadership in an intellectual climate.
For more information, go to www.hacc.edu
Chartered in 1783, Dickinson is located in historic Carlisle, Pa. and is home to approximately 2,300 students from all over the nation and the world. The college’s cross-disciplinary approach has led to strengths in international education, the natural and mathematical sciences, environmental studies, the arts and pre-professional preparation. The curriculum is further enriched by internships, community service and involvement and cooperative student-faculty research and publishing. To enhance its science programs, Dickinson completed the second phase of the Rector Science Complex, which houses chemistry, molecular biology & biochemistry and neuroscience. The addition is connected to Tome Hall, home to physics, math and computer science. Last year, Dickinson opened one of the nation’s first academic centers focusing on the environment. The Center for Environmental Sustainability Education will infuse environmental education throughout the curriculum to enhance an already strong environmental-studies program, as well as an already college-wide commitment to green initiatives, organic farming and sustainable living. Dickinson College is committed to its historic mission: to prepare young people, by means of a useful and progressive education in the liberal arts and sciences, for engaged lives of citizenship and leadership in the service of society. www.dickinson.edu
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