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By Daniel de Vise
Here is a guest post from Vinton Thompson, President of the Metropolitan College of New York.
The House majority has voted for large cuts in Pell Grant support for low-income college students. These cuts would be disastrous for many students attending urban institutions and should be opposed. But lost in the discussion of these draconian cuts for all recipients of maximum Pell support is another Pell cut proposal that would target some of our nation’s most deserving students.
President Obama’s administration proposes to end year-round Pell Grants, which support students who go to school all year. This program, only a year and a half old, has given a lifeline to hardworking, non-traditional adult students. It supports their efforts to earn a life-changing B.A. faster and more efficiently than is possible in the traditional two-semester academic year that evolved in another era to serve young residential students.
In academic year 2009-2010, 666 students at Metropolitan College of New York, a small, nonprofit urban commuter institution in Manhattan, received Pell Grants. One hundred fourteen of these students relied on year-round Pell Grants. One is Khassaundra Whitley, who presently works as a teacher’s aide. She began her studies in Summer Semester 2010, planning to become a school teacher or social worker. To meet the requirements for a position that is opening at her current workplace, she needs to obtain her bachelor’s degree within the next year and a half. MCNY’s year-round, three full-semester academic calendar offers her the opportunity to accomplish this goal. But to complete her bachelor’s degree on this tight schedule she is relying on year-round Pell. Without it she will not be able to meet her goal on deadline.
Or take the case of Sabrina Soto, another student who first enrolled in Summer Semester 2010. She has two children, attends school full-time and works in a mental health facility. She needs her bachelor’s degree to qualify for promotion to supervisor. Thanks to year-round Pell, the New York State Tuition Assistance Program and some transfer credits, she has already completed her associate’s degree and is hard at work on her bachelor’s degree. Year-round Pell will make it possible for her to attend during Summer Semester 2011. Sabrina believes that being able to earn her degree quickly and without interruption is important to her success.
If year-round Pell comes to an end, dedicated students like Khassaundra and Sabrina will have to slow down their educations or go deeper into debt. In the first case, students’ dreams and higher-order contributions to the economy will be postponed (a postponement that may go on indefinitely if interruptions lead to loss of momentum and dropping out of school). In the second case, greater debt leads to greater risk of loan default. Neither outcome is in the students’ or the nation’s interest.
The administration contends that year-round Pell has not accelerated completion of bachelor’s degrees. No data has been offered to support this position. It is unlikely that only 18 months of experience would make it possible to do a thoughtful evaluation of this program, given that it takes a minimum of 16 months to earn a two-year associate degree going year-round. The administration also contends that the program has proved unexpectedly popular, an odd argument for discontinuation. Instead, the strong demand indicates that year-round Pell grants have met a real need in the target low-income student population.
Mr. Obama has made increasing college graduation rates a national priority. Rescinding year-round Pell grants would undercut this effort. Why target a group of students who are especially diligent and support-worthy to bear a disproportionate impact of national budget cuts? Surely there are better alternatives to share the inevitable pain.
If you’re considering attending MCNY, you might find the perceptions of real MCNY students and alumni to be of interest in your college selection process. MCNY routinely surveys recent graduates to gauge their opinion of the education provided. The results below, from the 2007-08 graduating class, clearly show that the vast majority (86%) are satisfied with the College.
A very high level of MCNY graduates (80%) said they would recommend the degree program they just completed to a friend considering college. Common reasons to encourage other students to attend MCNY include:
MCNY is committed to enhancing the educational experience of all of its students. Student feedback from the Annual Graduation Survey, and other outcome assessments, are used by academic planners and administrators to make improvements to programs and services.
MCNY Graduates are Promoted and Earn More
Some of the reasons for this strong willingness to recommend MCNY may stem from the results produced in the employment area. 78% of recent graduates report they are working in full-time positions and 8% are working in part-time jobs. Others are pursuing additional education. MCNY graduates are most commonly employed in the following areas:
Nearly three in ten 2007-08 graduates (29%) report being promoted since starting at MCNY. Graduates also report earning more income. On average, undergraduate salaries increased $5,000 and graduate level student pay increased $4,972. Considering the accelerated nature of the programs (2 years eight months for undergraduate and typically one year for graduate) this is a significant accomplishment.
Ed Gillen was the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment at Metropolitan College of New York.
I am the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment here at MCNY and I was asked to post on this blog to share some of the results from the recent National Survey of Student Engagement. (NSSE)
If you are thinking about applying to MCNY this might give you a little insight in terms of what students have to say about the institution.
NSSE is a nationally standardized assessment that asks students about the time they devote to educationally purposeful activities, and it asks whether the institution uses effective educational practices to encourage students to do the right things.
Research has shown that educationally effective schools channel student energy toward the right activities. NSSE looks at five key areas of effective educational practice shown below.
During the spring 2008 semester MCNY surveyed Purpose 2 and Purpose 8 undergraduates using the NSSE. Overall, MCNY did very well when compared with other private colleges in the Mid East region (colleges in NY, PA, NJ, DC, MD, DE). Specifically…
MCNY will use the results to further enhance our strengths in Active and Collaborative Learning and Supportive Campus Environment, and we will look for ways to improve Enriching Educational Experiences. Additionally, MCNY may focus on ways to exceed the private college comparison group scores in the areas where we are currently tied – Level of Academic Challenge and Student-Faculty Interaction.
Ed Gillen was the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment at Metropolitan College of New York.
Having been an Admissions Counselor for the last 3 years, I’ve come to see that each student is unique not only in terms of academics, but also in terms of maturity, readiness, and enthusiasm. While adhering to the college’s mission and the overall requirements of the programs, when meeting with students and reviewing their applications, counselors definitely assess students in terms of what is perceived as their level of interest. As counselors, we are hoping that when a student comes in for an interview, he/she is “highly interested” in attending MCNY, extremely motivated, and has the ability to succeed. We look forward to generating that letter of congratulations on their acceptance and recognizing the contribution they will make to our community of higher education.
So, the following are a few ideas, from the perspective of an admissions counselor, that you might want to consider:
Potential students who follow these tips will be sure to have a positive experience with their admission counselor. Also, keep in mind, a decision does not have to be made in one day. Understand that the counselor’s goal is to provide the student with the information they will need to determine if the college is the best choice in leading to the success of their future.
With that being said, good luck and I hope to see you on campus!!!!
Monica Ortiz is an Enrollment Specialist at Metropolitan College of New York.
We all live in very credentials oriented world. A bachelor’s degree is not as highly valued as it once was, but try to get by without one and you are up for a rude awakening. Still, today, a master’s degree still sets individuals apart. Not everyone planned on going to graduate school when they first enrolled in college. Many return to graduate school after many years absence from college. Some with well developed skills and work experience directly related to the studies in which they want to pursue a Master’s, others going off in entirely new career directions.
In either case, an admissions decision will have to be made on the basis of what evidence you provide to build a case that you will be successful in your studies. In most cases it will be the cumulative educational experience exhibited on your transcript (transcripts) or most recent transcript over and above a standardized test taken on Saturday last December.
An admissions interview may help you to identify how your application will be reviewed and how likely it may or may not be that you will qualify for admission.
I have to admit though, too many factors are taken into account in making an admissions decision to justifying whether one applies to one school or another. And, you can’t decide based on gut instinct alone.
In the worst scenario you may need to look in a different direction or build a better case for yourself so that (better prepared) you may look to receive a different answer at a later time. Sometimes, additional evidence such as new coursework completed with better grades can help you do this. I know that this may seem harsh to some, but graduate study is serious stuff. It is certainly no place to learn to write.
So, I guess my advice to those who think they want graduate school but aren’t willing to take the plunge and risk rejection is to apply anyway.
Steven Lenhart is the Dean of Enrollment Services at Metropolitan College of New York.
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