Success Rates Rise as Students Meet Goals

Melinda, Ebrahimi

Due to the rising cost of university tuition fees, many students opt to attend a community college to complete their general education requirements before transferring in order to save money.

Glendale College is one of the top schools in the state in terms of preparing their students for university and making sure they transfer within a set amount of time.

“Success rates go up and down if you measure them year to year,” said superintendent/president David Viar. “But, overall, when you look at the data, we tend to be at the top three and most of the time in the top one of our region of 14 Los Angeles colleges and statewide.”

With the college being one of the top transfer schools statewide, its transfer rate is nearly 10 percent above the statewide ranking. According to Glendale Community College’s Institutional Effectiveness Report of 2012-2013, the campus has ranked 10th out of 111 colleges in California. The school has also ranked highest out of 14 schools in its geographical region, compared to Santa Monica College with 47 percent, and Pasadena City College and Pierce College with 48 percent. Glendale ranked 49 percent between 2006 and 2007.

Viar believes that the Glendale Unified School District contributes to this success.

“Many of our students who come here from the [Glendale] high schools are often times a little better prepared than others,” he said. “But, overall, I give the credit to our faculty and staff.”

Based on the Campus Profile of 2014, from the total of the 2,506 freshmen that enrolled in Glendale College in the fall of 2013, 826 students came from the Glendale Unified School District, which makes it a total of 33 percent of the student population.

According to Edward Karpp, dean of research, planning, and grants, transferring students is one of the college’s biggest goals. Both Viar and Karpp believe that the instructional program at Glendale College contributes to accomplishing that goal.

“It’s part of the culture here, where our philosophy is to prepare students to transfer over other goals,” said Karpp.

Viar said that the faculty and staff focus on connecting with the students and helping them engage in school, which requires students to put in extra time outside of school and results in a greater desire to succeed.

“It’s going beyond the office hours that are available and that are required for faculty members to have,” said Viar. “[We] are far beyond just the faculty standing in front of the students and lecturing. Ours roll up their sleeves and get involved.”

The Retrospective Transfer History in the Campus Profile of 2014 shows that the number of students transferring to a four-year college has increased in the past 15 years. In the academic year of 1995-1996, there were a total of 805 known transfers from Glendale College, 569 on which went to a CSU. In the 2012-2013 academic year, there were a total of 1,244 transfers. The reason for the high number of students transferring to four-year institutions, compared to 15 years ago, is the increase of students enrolling at Glendale College.

Despite the high transfer rate, the number of students who receive an associate degree before moving on to another school has decreased significantly in the past few years. There has been a decline of 40 percent from the 2006-2007 academic year, when 575 associates degrees were received. According to the Institutional Effectiveness Report, there were only 258 between 2011 and 2012.

Karpp attributes this to the fact that the school used to have a General Education/ Transfer Studies degree that was given out to students who completed the General Education requirements without a specific major. Now, however, all degrees have a specific major and the Transfer Studies degree is no longer offered.

“The states chancellor’s office of California community colleges decided that we couldn’t offer these general education associate degrees anymore,” said Karpp. “It is a standard from our accrediting commission of the community junior colleges.”

The reason for the lack of associate degrees awarded is that there has not been enough money to provide the students with as many courses as they need to complete an associate degree.

“The improvement in the economy has caused people not to necessarily complete [an associate degree],” said Viar.

Only 16 of the General Education Transfer Studies degree have been given out for the 2013-2014 academic school year.

“It used to be in the hundreds,” said Karpp

The most degrees awarded in the academic year of 2013-2014 were in business administration with a total of 67 and social science with 66.

Throughout his 20 years at the school, Karpp has seen a lot of changes. He explained that the availability of the classes can be compared to a cycle that changes every eight to 10 years.

The cycles are based on the economy. There is a high demand for classes when the economy is down, but the school cannot offer them due to lack of state funding. However, when the economy is good, many students do not see the need of attending community colleges because they can get jobs, which leads to problems for the enrollment rate of the school.

“We are kind of in that cycle now, where enrollments are a little softer than they were,” said Karpp

Although there are students who do not transfer, the college’s Institutional Effectiveness Report of 2012-2013 has shown that the campus ranks above the statewide transfer rates with 49 percent compared to the statewide rates of 41 percent.

The school’s transfer rate is calculated by the chancellor’s office. The percentages of the students who actually transfer are those who have attempted transfer-level math and English and have transferred within six years.

The average time students spend at Glendale College before tranferring to four-year universities is two to six years.

“It is not unusual for an individual to go through a six- year period and then transfer to a university,” said Viar.  “We are far beyond the old days where most everybody was in and out in two years.”

Part of the reason most students take longer than two years, according to Viar, is that there is a large percentage of non-traditional students at the college, meaning many are not just straight out of high school and have jobs and families.

“Even the students who are coming out of high school will often times need to have a job in order to be able to pay our tuition and to pay for the significant costs of the books,” said Viar.

“My major goal is to provide the support and encouragement and the guidance to our faculty and our staff,” said Viar.

“My second goal would be communicating with the public, Glendale and the region as to the role that Glendale Community College plays in serving the needs of our future work force, people and the jobs and skills that are necessary and help us be a strong region.”