Reasons to Choose a Community College

With their flexible schedule, qualified professors, and low tuition rates, community colleges are a key to opportunities. In fall 2009, more than 7.5 million students were enrolled at two-year colleges around the United States, according to a 2011 report from Thomas D. Snyder and Sally A. Dillow at the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s up by more than one-third from 1999, according to the Council of Graduate Schools, which called the jump “a rapid expansion.”

The council said that the majority (57 percent) of two-year college enrollees in fall 2009 were enrolled part-time. About 43 percent of two-year College attendees plan to complete an associate’s degree, while about 36 percent plan to transfer to a four-year institution, according to a 2008 report on community colleges by Stephen Provasnik and Michael Planty. Nevertheless, whether a student’s goal is to directly join the labor force or to transfer to a four-year institution, supporters say community colleges provide the training, teaching, and services that are needed in order to be successful.

Five reasons why a person might choose a community college:

  1. Lower Tuition Costs

According to the American Association of Community College, the average community college tuition fee for the 2013-2014 was $3,260 vs. $9,404 at public four-year universities and $18,850 at private institutions.

  1. Qualified Professors

Most community college professors find their work sincerely satisfying and they are very competent and confident to teach their matters. A recent national survey of community college faculty members, called B10, found that 73% report experiencing “joy” in their work and 71% believe their work is meaningful. “Teachers at community colleges are charged with connecting with students rather than putting half their time into research and publishing, which often requires putting a student assistant in charge of the actual teaching,” author Brandon Rogers said in his online article, “Why Choose a Community College?” At Middlesex Community College, for instance, there are several exceptionally qualified professors, such as David Kalivas, who has a Ph.D. from Northeastern University, a master’s from University of Connecticut, and a bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University. Kalivas is also the director of the Commonwealth Honors Program at MCC.

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  1. Flexible Schedule

More than 80 percent of community college students work part-time or full-time jobs and many have family responsibilities. Community colleges offer flexible schedules for both day and night courses, and sometimes on weekends, to accommodate working students and parents who appreciate the benefits of getting educated.

  1. Easy to Transfer

Transferring to a four-year university is so much easier once a student is in a community college. In fact, community college students have the chance to earn college credits while planning which university they would choose to pursue a higher education. According to the 2011 report made by the National Science Foundation, among doctorate recipients in academic year 2009-10, 12 percent had earned college credit from a community or two-year college at some point on their academic path. The American Association of Community College (AACC) claim that roughly 60 percent of students who transferred from a two-year institution to a four-year institution had graduated with a bachelor’s or higher degree within four years. The study shows that students who earned an associate degree before transferring had the highest baccalaureate completion rates at 71 percent. The AACC Transfer Success 2014 Report has shown that students moving from community colleges to public four-year colleges on average had the highest number of transferred credits (30.1). The same group of students also had the highest number of credits earned prior to transfer (37.7). Students switching from public four-year to another public four-year institution had a similar rate of credits transferring (26.2). The findings also show that about 56 percent of all credits transferred were from public two-year colleges.

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  1. Smaller Classrooms

Community college classes are small, averaging 35 students per class, which allows for more interaction between students and instructors. Daniel W. Barwick, an associate professor of philosophy at the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred, said class sizes at large universities can range upwards of 300 students in a single lecture hall. By contrast, the community college class size has an average of between 25 and 40 students per classroom. “There isn’t even a pretense that one teacher can effectively teach such a large set of students or that the arrangement is ideal; the teacher is equipped with a fleet of teaching ‘assistants,’” Barwick said in his online article, “Does Class Size Matters.” Barwick believes that such conditions are accepted as “a necessary evil that accompanies the large university.” However, the educational value of such a classroom setting is “dubious when compared to some of the alternatives,” the professor said. On the other hand, community colleges offer an environment in which students can simply talk and ask questions of teachers and colleagues, which not only helps them improve their critical thinking but also builds connections.

More Facts…

Not only are community colleges being helpful to students, but they help the U.S. economy as well. “The colleges benefit U.S. businesses by increasing consumer spending and supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers into the workforce,” says the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) 2012 report, which says community colleges have been a “boon to the American economy at large and to the individual student.”

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AACC 2012 Report

“They enrich the lives of students by raising their lifetime incomes and helping them achieve their individual potential. They benefit society as a whole in the U.S. by creating a more prosperous economy and generating a variety of savings through the improved lifestyles of students,” says the report.

“In 2012 alone, the net total impact of community colleges on the U.S. economy was $809 billion in added income, equal to 5.4 percent of GDP. Over time, the U.S. economy will see even greater economic benefits, including $285.7 billion in increased tax revenue as students earn higher wages and $19.2 billion in taxpayer savings as students require fewer safety net services, experience better health, and lower rates of crime.”

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One “Honest” Mistake

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Via MCC Blog

Royall M. Mack Sr., who Gov. Deval Patrick appointed chairman of the Middlesex Community College board of trustees two years ago, has “bragged” for more than 10 years that he has an “executive MBA from Harvard University.” However, The Boston Herald reported Tuesday that the Ivy League school does not award that degree.

On the 11-year-old website of his corporation, Ciara Enterprises LLC, Mack Sr. has recorded that he received the graduate degree through the school’s Advanced Management Program. Yet, the program lasts eight weeks and awards only an official recognition for a current price of about $75,000. Furthermore, none of the Harvard Business School program has ever offered an “Executive MBA.”

In a Press Release dated Oct. 19, 2012, “GOVERNOR PATRICK APPOINTS ROYALL M. MACK, SR. AS CHAIR OF MIDDLESEX COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES,” the governor said, “He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, and graduated first in his class from Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program.”

“The class voted on the person that best represented the class,” Mack told the Herald. “That’s basically how it was positioned. … The classmates had to vote on it. It’s a very intense senior-level program.”

Mack said that his failure to accurate the website was an “honest mistake.” However, on his website, the error had not been fixed (as of Dec. 10).

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Patrick’s headquarters didn’t respond to precise inquiries about Mack. In its place, the governor released a statement saying all chairman nominations are handled through the Public Education Nominating Council before an endorsement is made to the governor.

On Dec. 10, the governor promised to “get the facts from the source,” while affirming that he does not have conversations with “individual appointees to community college boards (in advance).”

MACK

Via MCC Blog

The same day, Mack sent the following email to all MCC students, trustees, and employees:

“I want to take this opportunity to address an allegation that has surfaced this week regarding the misrepresentation of my academic credentials.  Media reports this week have called into question the authenticity of my academic achievements from Harvard University.  I want to make it clear that I attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1991 and successfully completed the 109th session of their Advanced Management Program.

At no time have I personally represented that I obtained an executive MBA from Harvard as a result.  That information was gleaned by a web page designer, from a completion certificate I received from Harvard.  The web designer misinterpreted that information and included it in web-based biographies that were included on several websites as well as announcements from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts related to my appointment as chair of the Middlesex Community College Board of Trustees.

This clarification has been communicated to the Commissioner of Higher Education in Massachusetts.

I want to assure all of you that I place the highest possible value on personal integrity and would never intentionally misrepresent such an academic achievement, and in no way whatsoever should this reflect at all on any of the outstanding work being performed by the MCC Board of Trustees nor any of the college’s staff, faculty, or students.”

As the Middlesex board gathered to name President Carole Cowan’s replacement on Dec 11, Cowan and other trustees said they have confidence in Mack regardless of the reports. Trustee Paul E. Means, a former state representative from Stoneham, said the chairman had been “beaten up in the press” but that he did a “very good job” in guiding the search for a new president; however, “The appearance stretches the credibility that person has when something like this happens,” said Means.

Cowan, in a brief interview, told a Herald reporter that “you’d have to talk to (Mack)” and said his inflated resume doesn’t concern her. “Full confidence,” she said of him.

UPDATE: Dec. 12

In a three-paragraph resignation letter sent to the governor on Dec 12, Mack says that he quits with “great regret and inestimable pride” in MCC. Just a day before, Mack chaired the board’s final meeting of the year, where they selected James Mabry as MCC new president, replacing the outgoing Carole Cowan, who is leaving her $260,000-a-year post after more than 20 years.

Mack's Letter

Farewell President Carole Cowan!

When Carol Cowan started at Middlesex Community in 1976, the school occupied two buildings at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford.  “Look at us now,” Cowan said in June as she prepared to leave her job as president of one of the largest and most inclusive community colleges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

At a joint board meeting of the MCC Board of Trustees and the MCC Foundation Cowan said that accepting her first job at Middlesex as a professor was “a decision I’ve never regretted.” People in attendance were sad to hear that Cowan was announcing her resignation, which will take place the upcoming academic year.

Cowan has served as dean of business and dean of administration and finance. Cowan received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Salem State College, a certificate of advanced graduate study from Boston State College, and a doctorate in higher education administration, from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In addition to these achievements, Cowan received an honorary doctor of humane letters from the Suffolk University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Management, in acknowledgment of her eminent career in public higher education and most recently received another honorary doctor of humane letters from Salem State College. Cowan is a member of the council’s Nominating and Board Development Committee and has been a member of the Girls Scouts board of directors since 2008. In September 1990, Cowan was named president of MCC.

“I’ve been here 38 years,” tells Cowan, the third president of the institution. At the MCC Board of Trusties meeting, Cowan said she felt she helped lead MCC from “its infancy to adulthood,” and that she also helped establish the college as a “flagship in the community college system.”

“We have strong campuses in our suburban (Bedford) and urban (Lowell) settings. Middlesex Community College has become a nationally recognized leader in higher education,” said Cowan.

She listed her accomplishments and announced to the Board, “We are beginning (a) study with the DCAM (Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance) for a new academic science building on the Bedford campus, with a major investment in biotechnology through the $3 million grant from the Mass Life Sciences consortium. Additionally, we are looking at another $10 million state investment for another new academic building in Lowell.

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“I am proud to be president of this institution, proud to be your colleague, and proud of the milestones we have reached as a team here at Middlesex. I’m excited to see where the college goes next,” said Cowan.

In a statement regarding Cowan’s retirement, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas said:

“Twenty four years ago Carole broke barriers to become the first woman president of MCC, and only its third president. During my nine years at MCC, I was inspired by Carole’s visionary leadership and unwavering dedication to the students and community, as she overcame obstacles to propel the college forward to national recognition. Carole’s leadership helped to elevate the profile of MCC and community colleges in general, highlighting the important role they play in educating, training and preparing people of all ages and walks of life for success… Her years of service and her remarkable legacy of accomplishment will resonate across the region for many years to come.”

Likewise, via his Twitter account, Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn, who assisted Cowan’s Farewell ceremony on Nov. 10, said, “Congrats on your retirement after 24 years leading Middlesex CC, @CaroleCowan! @middlesex_cc.”

To find Cowan’s heir, the search committee started work throughout the summer and fall semesters. On Dec 11, MCC board of trustees selected James Mabry as the new president.

“I am confident I have helped set the stage for the next president to step in and grab the reins of very exciting projects that will usher our college’s growth into the next decade and beyond,” Cowan said.

Farewell President Cowan, you sure will be missed at MCC!

Ironstone Farm: Spirit of Giving Gala – Dallas 2014

Yeehaw! On November 15, more than 400 people enjoyed the Spirit of Giving Gala at Andover Country Club to benefit Ironstone Farm and Challenge Unlimited, (place a comma after the word Unlimited) which provides therapy horses and a working farm environment for the disabled.

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Ironstone Farm Executive Director Deedee O’Brien introduced the night by saying, “The horse will do a lot of things for a lot of people, and we’re discovering every day what that can do. And you are making that possible.”

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With “Dallas: Bring your Bling” as its theme, the gala featured a mechanical bull, chuck wagons fully loaded with candies, popcorn and nuts, buffets with Texas food, country music from the Houston Bernard Band, a Texas hold‘em table and other gambling games provided by Boston Charity Casinos. Most the invitees wore hats and boots, big hair and bling, among other Texas-style clothing. WBZ-TV sportscaster Bob Lobel, dressed in western gear, hosted a live auction for several vacation packages, while many other items were featured at a silent auction.

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The event honored benefactors Doug and Diana Berthiaume, members of the Ironstone Farm Leadership Committee. According to the Andover Townsman Online, the couple offered a matching donation to launch the farm’s five-year capital campaign to further improve its nonprofit programs and facilities.

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Normand Deschene, CEO of Circle Health and Lowell General Hospital, was also honored for his three decades of service at the hospital.

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Thank to the support and contributions made during that night, Megan Loughney, associate executive director at Ironstone Farm, announced that the Spirit of Giving Gala raised over $350,000

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About Ironstone Farm

Ironstone Farm was founded in 1960 by Richard Donovan as a breeding, training, and rehabilitative facility for thoroughbred performance horses. The nonprofit Challenge Unlimited was created out of the Donovan family’s desire to share Ironstone Farm with people whose lives have been challenged by disability. Located on more than 18 acres in Andover, the property consists of pasture, woodland, ponds, and is home to about 35 horses, donkeys, and a variety of wildlife (IronstoneFarm.org).

“Therapeutic riding uses the horse to deliver traditional physical, occupational, and speech therapy in a unique way – providing integration of fine motor, gross motor, speech and sensory integration in one experience,” said Peter Raffalli, a child neurological physician at Children’s Hospital.

“My personal observation is that children with low muscle tone and children with autism spectrum disorder seem to do very well with therapeutic riding. Their parents quite commonly see improvements in truncal tone and endurance, as well as interactions with staff and with their environment,” the doctor said.

To make a donation to Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm through Guidestarclick here.

 

 

 

Other Sources: Megan Donovan ( http://ironstonefarm.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SOG-14-press-release.pdf )

Pictures and videos by: Diana Santana

Mary-Jo’s Tips on How to Dress for Success

Finally! You have the opportunity to be interviewed for that dream job that you have always wanted. You know that you have the charisma and a great personality to become part of that prestigious company; however, you certainly know that it’s all about that first impression. “What should I do?” you start panicking. Don’t worry! The Director of Paul Sullivan Leadership Institute, Mary-Jo Griffin, held an extraordinary presentation on how to dress for success. And here are 10 of her tips that you should follow before heading to your interview:

  • Ladies:

Q: Is it okay to wear pants to an interview, or should I stick to a dress?
A: “Wear your A-Game!” says Mary-Jo. Either pants or skirt suits are okay, with a color preference of grey, black, or navy. She recommends that the skirt-length should not be shorter than your knee or longer than just beneath your knee. Neutral-colored Pantyhose: a must!

Q: I love vibrant colors; thus, is it okay to wear a splash of color?
A: She suggests wearing a harmonized blouse with no vibrant colors or designs. In the same way, your nails have to be painted with neutral or pastel colors. Try to avoid plastic or extravagant jewelry, and limit yourself by wearing one ring per hand.

Q: How about my makeup?
A:  It’s okay to wear makeup! Just be careful not to use too much; it should be light or neutral. Moreover, don’t let your hair go all over your face, pull it back! You might not want any distraction during your big day.

Q: What else should I bring with me?
A: You should carry a purse or a briefcase with your portfolio (if it applies). Don’t forget to bring a pen and notebook, as well as your presentation cards. Make sure all your information is updated and written correctly.

Q: How about my shoes?
A: DO NOT wear open-toed shoes or athletic shoes. Platform shoes are okay. High-heels are recommended, but don’t use the same ones that you usually use to go dancing or meeting your girlfriends.

  • Gentlemen:

Q: What color should I wear and what should I bring to the interview?
A: You should wear a conservative suit of solid colors like black, gray, brown or navy. Don’t forget to bring your briefcase and/or portfolio along with pen and notebook, and your updated presentation cards.

Q: What color my shirt should be? Can I wear short sleeves?
A: It is preferable to wear a white or light blue long-sleeved shirt with sleeves that cover one-quarter inch beyond your suit jacket. It’s okay to wear a coat, especially during New England’s cold winter.

Q: What about my socks; should I matched with my shirt or my suit? How about my tie?
A: Griffin advises men to wear socks in a color that balances the suit. Yet, please don’t wear athletic socks. And your tie should have a traditional pattern and color to match the suit.

PS: If you don’t know how to tie your tie, here’s a helpful easy-steps video:

Q: I don’t think I should shave my beard; should I?
A: She suggests that men should consider the idea of shaving or trimming their beard, for an immaculate appearance. Believe it or not, Griffin explains that although your appearance may not be the main reason why someone won’t hire you, “40 percent of employers’ criteria of choosing their employee” is based upon this particular issue.

Q: My earrings are part of my personality; thus, should I leave them on?
A: You should remove any visible piercings for the same reason mentioned previously. And, if you have long hair, you should wear a ponytail.

“You will never have a second chance to make that first impression,” Griffin says. She says that, when going to an interview, we should dress like we are applying for a position two steps up instead of the one we are looking for at the moment. Remember, you ought to “dress for success!”

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Chester Elton: Are You All In?

On September 25, the Lowell Memorial Auditorium was full of laughs and positive energy due to the encouraging and inspirational speech by Chester Elton, author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, All In. The event was presented by the Young Professionals of Greater Lowell, House of Hope, and other great organizations of the city of Lowell. With a pleasant appearance and obvious charisma, Chester Elton introduced himself as a husband and father of four children, followed by a brief introductory story about his last visit to one of one of the Hard Rock Cafe restaurants. The restaurant chain is known for its memorabilia, music and all things rock and roll. But that enthusiasm and passion even carries into the kitchen, said Elton.

“Hard Rock Café believes that there is a little bit of rock stars in everybody,” said the author of The Carrot Principle after telling the story of one of the Café’s employees who proudly and happily works as a dishwasher. Elton showed a video of the enthusiastic worker who was dancing and singing while cleaning the dishes.

“If the (Hard Rock Café’s) dishwasher gets it, everybody gets it,” Elton said, encouraging the audience to develop a belief that must never be lost.

“Leaders help people to believe,” the author said. He advised that leaders must have discipline as well as “fall in love” with their job.

“If I walk into a room and (I noticed that) I’m the smartest one, I am in the wrong room,” Elton said.

Elton taught his audience how to apply the three E’s into their life and workplace: employers and leaders need to be “Engaged, Enabled at work, and Energized,” because, “Everybody deserve a great place to work.”

“Who will you inspire today,” Elton said as he ticked off a list of thoughtful questions. “What motives me?” he continued to ask. He gave away goodies and some copies of his book, All In, every time someone in the audience responded to his questions about leadership and entrepreneurship.

“Put your passions to work,” advised the author. “Praise efforts, and reward results.” Through the whole one-hour speech, Elton kept his charisma as well as his audience’s smiles intact.

Chester Elton is co-author of numerous prosperous leadership books and is an “In-demand speaker the world over,” according to his website. His books have been translated into over 20 languages and have sold more than a million copies worldwide.

“You are the owner of your culture… Be good to everybody,” Elton concluded.

Paul H Sullivan Leadership Institute: My Goals and Skills

I remember the first day I walked into class at Middlesex Community College. It was a mix of excitement and scariness, and at the same time I was feeling lost. The square room was becoming so big while I was feeling so small. I did not consider myself a shy person… Yet, I was afraid of expressing my feelings and concerns out loud due to my basic English knowledge. Nevertheless, through the caring English Language professor, I learned that at MCC it’s not about how little you speak or know about the English language, what really matters is our optimism and willingness to learn in order to reach our goals and teach others what we learn here at college. As the semesters went by, I gained more self-confidence; that’s when I decided to apply to the Paul Sullivan Leadership Institute at MCC.

Since the first training and the orientation day, I knew that I would fall in love with the Leadership Institution like I did with Middlesex. As a mother, this institution provides me with the skills that I’ve being practicing with my children and modeling as I continue learning from its events and meetings: Have respect for myself and others, be responsible, have fun and enjoy while learning. As a student, the PSLI has been opening doors to my future. And I am becoming more friendly, open-minded, and less afraid of speaking in public.

For example, when I was showing my support to the welcoming community of Bedford on Town Day, I felt that my social skills were improving… walking in the middle of the street, giving away candies to the lovely children, and feeling as happy as the community. Those are the little moments that have a great impact on life. I was not afraid to talk and greet the community. I was not feeling nervous at all.

I had the same experience at the Young Professionals of Greater Lowell conference. Chester Elton, the author of All In, awakened a new “skill” in me: Praise good work, and as he said, “Inspire others so they could fall in love with their job.”

Feeling the need to get out of  my chair and start working, at my first meeting as co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Network at MCC, I brought little boxes of chocolates and, in the name of the whole group, I gave them to all our members in order to welcome them to “Our Family.” Their “Awww” and “Thank you” made me feel as received as I think they did.

On the other hand, like any human being, I also have my weaknesses. I can feel mind-blocked when trying to translate from Spanish to English. There’s so much more that I want to say, and sometimes I don’t have the correct translation to express it. Although I know that this might not be considered as a weakness, when you combine it with insecurity, leads you right there. In addition, I can be very emotional; even when I laugh hard some tears of mine don’t hesitate; they slide down without mercy. On a bad day, it’s worse, especially if a person talks to me with a temper. Yet, I keep learning how to control these emotions.

I have as many short-term goals as long ones. One of my short ones is to be able to learn something new each day and then teach it to my children and/or friends, family, co-workers and so forth. My biggest goal is to build a shelter for single moms. As I spent 11 months living in one and still struggling with “The System,” I know the struggles of many of the women living there. It is not easy. Thus, as part of my daily goals, I am changing “I want” to “I will.” I will build a place where those single hard-working moms can learn how to be extraordinary women and leaders –just like the Paul Sullivan Institute is doing with me- and for them to become the person they have always dreamed of.

I truly know that the Paul H Sullivan Leadership Institute (along with our director Mary-Jo Griffin and the rest of the team) has been one of my best education experiences yet. With just those few events and meetings, I am feeling more awake and self-conscious, secure, inspired and dedicated. I cannot wait for the next steps of my path in this institution; it feels extremely good. I cannot thank God more for all of these changes in my life.

I can’t wait for our next big event, where I will have the pleasure to meet the Greater Lowell philanthropists, Linda and John Chemaly, a great inspirational hardworking couple.