The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

My Quick Thoughts Re Defending the Community College Equity Agenda

A new collection of essays entitled Defending the Community College Equity Agenda has just been published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The collection was edited by Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center, at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Vanessa Smith Morest, assistant director of the center.

The book provides a comprehensive overview of the mixed success of community colleges in creating student access and college completion. This is a first-rate, research-based book and a major contribution to the literature. The authors define the equity agenda in higher education as made up of three components: equity in college preparation, access to college, and success in college -- satisfying college goals.

The authors also cover college and student finance issues and focus on students as well. Similar to many other studies, the authors conclude that community colleges do a lot better on student access than success. For example, after 8 years only 20% of black community college students get a degree or certificate.

But several other studies stress that there are many things students can do to increase their chances for college completion. Students should begin community college right after high school and stay in school year round in order to improve college persistence. This means enrolling in summer school. So starting sooner is better and a commitment to learning throughout the year is helpful. These enrollment patterns are particularly useful for first-generation students who have little support for college, particularly family, that is vital keeping them in college continuously.

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