In this report, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) examines the “21st-Century Initiative, the overall goal of which is to arm an additional five million students with diplomas, certificates, or other credentials by 2020.

Reclaiming the American Dream outlines the shortcomings of community colleges in student success rates, job preparation, and aiding high school students in a transition to the college lifestyle. For example, only 46 percent of students who enter community college focused on earning a credential attain that goal, transfer to a four-year institution, or are still enrolled six years later. The rates are even lower among minority and low-income students.

AACC lays out policy ideas for improving the system: require students to participate in on-campus orientation, insist on first-semester advisement for a structured program of study, embed developmental education instruction into credit-bearing courses, and call on four-year institutions to agree upon courses that will transfer without loss of credits. The goal is to have community colleges serve as more than pit stops, and instead to be real options for learning a trade and developing job skills that are relevant in the ever-changing economy.

Fortunately for Buckeye State students, these recommendations are largely already in place – or the state and its schools are actively working toward enacting them. This report was partially funded by Cuyahoga Community College, which will work with the association to develop a strategic plan to help that school improve its students’ outcomes.

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