Friday Fragments | Confessions of a Community College Dean

Several wise and mundane readers working in four-year colleges provided helpful comments on yesterday’s article. The article noted that students who graduate with an undergraduate degree receive their accepted credits as a block, while students who transfer without first graduating often receive their degrees and the credits are denied. She suggested that the premium for program completion was a reflection of the higher probability that students who completed one program had to complete another.

The responses converged on “Yes, because…” and “Because” is mathematics. When students move before graduation, they claim, it is usually because they put off taking math. But students who postpone math classes are less likely to finish the programs. Students who come with full degrees have (most likely) met their math requirements.

I didn’t think about it, but it makes sense. I saw a difference in that a lot at DeVry. Although it was a technical school and the students took technical majors, many were afraid of mathematics and put off for as long as possible. He was a rare student who could recover after doing that.

To be fair, some have answered that the premise is not universal. Alexandra Luge, of CUNY, noted that transfer of the course within CUNY is independent of whether or not a student has graduated. I was glad to hear that. But in my own world, the degree premium is real; I’m not sure many people know that.

Congratulations to my friends who finally came for Public Service Loan Forgiveness this week! The program had more than its share of issues; It’s heartening to see the good guys who held off the end of the bargain for so many years finally getting their due.

The girl got her third college admission this week. It came in the form of a festive video that managed to not include words like “accepted” or “congratulations”. This seemed to imply that she entered, but she maintained a reasonable denial that seemed out of place. A follow-up email indicated that it had been accepted.

It’s the little things.

Given the costs, acceptance is only the first step. The next step is to analyze the financial aid offer, which they indicated will likely come in March.

Finally, I have to give TG credit for her patience. It’s a frustratingly slow process.

Speaking of financial aid, Sarah Goldrick Raab was cited for making the necessary point this week at ABC about the lawsuit against a group of elite universities for agreeing not to compete for financial aid.

Goldrick Raab pointed out, correctly, that there are two arguments already underway. One was by potential or actual students who felt they had been cheated on for help by what amounted to a price-fixing cartel. They wanted better deals. The second is by students who have been completely excluded by universities that “need the blind” behaving in ways that did not need the blind. As I explained, if you were not accepted in the first place, there is no help offer to compare. Stabilizing prices and excluding students who did not receive “full salaries” served to reduce institutional spending on financial aid.

Remarkably, the colleges concerned do not deny the complicity. They just deny there was anything wrong with it.

If anyone doesn’t understand what’s wrong with that, I know some 17-year-olds who would like to get a word out.

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