One of the significant problems facing college leaders and policy planners as they work to expand access for students is the range of higher education options open to Americans. American higher education is highly decentralized. The solutions that are practical and responsive to large public institutions often have limited relevance to independent colleges and universities. The conditions that apply to community colleges are unique to them. And, none of these groups works together sufficiently well to create a seamless, integrated pathway for student success.
In a sense, it’s the strength and diversity of American higher education that creates its own obstacles. The student is the loser. Perhaps that’s why that, among the 82 percent of first-year community college students who state that they seek a four-year degree, only 11 percent will succeed in doing so today.
Historically, college and university presidents and their senior staffs, state and federal policymakers, and foundation leadership have looked first to the public sector whose leadership has wrestled in good faith with the dilemma of how to increase access, particularly for two-year students, to four-year public colleges and universities. To meet the challenge, public higher education leadership has generally moved in one of two ways. <Read more.>