NAAB June 15, 2012 Role of community colleges in post- secondary architecture education By Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D.

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1 According to the American Association of Community College (AACC), community colleges serve almost half of the undergraduate students in the U.S., more than 6.5 million in The comprehensive mission of community colleges makes them attractive to a broad range of people who seek particular programs or opportunities of special interest. Community colleges are the gateway to postsecondary education for many minority, low income, and first- generation postsecondary education students. Community colleges also provide access to education for many nontraditional students who are adults and working while enrolled. 2 AACC reports that there are 1,132 community colleges, most of which are public (986); some are independent (115) while the final few are tribal (31). Significant demographics include that a full 42% of students are first generation students to attend college and 13% are single parents; a lesser known statistic "60% of students who earn a four- year degree transfer courses from one college or university to another." 3 Schneider further reports that half of the nation's college students first enroll in community colleges. She argues that this forces universities to recognize community college courses as equivalent, when many are not. 4 At the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois, students are strongly encouraged to take general education courses from their local community college to reduce the credit load during semesters with studio. Plus, more and more high school students are co- registered in courses at a community college during while in high school. What role will community colleges play in higher education in the future? What role will community colleges play in post- secondary architecture education in the future? Community college enrollment is expected to grow in the future due to many factors: technological innovations in the workplace, maturation of baby- boomers children, distance learning, and technology but there are also risks as there are now more choices for students. 5 While there is not a list of transfer or associate s degrees in architectural technology or related fields, almost 40 community college programs are affiliate members of ACSA. According to Randi Steiner, director at Montgomery College who has done research in the area of community colleges and architecture, there are over 300 programs within community colleges that offer AAS degrees in architecture Retrieved May 21, Ibid. 3 Schneider, Carol G. (2005) "Liberal Education: Slip- Sliding Away?", Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk (ed. Richard H. Hersh and John Merrow), Pallgrave Macmillan, p Ibid, p Retrieved June 3, Randi Steiner, director at Montgomery College, is in connection with colleagues to create the Community Colleges Architecture Programs (CCAP) to address the relationship between community colleges and the profession.

2 Throughout the country, there are many degree programs at community colleges that transfer students to either accredited or pre- professional programs in architecture. One new program at the University of Central Florida (UCF) created the Bachelor of Design in Architecture in partnership with Valencia College and the University of Florida as part of a program for students to be able to complete a National Architectural Accrediting Board degree program in Central Florida. Will other accredited architecture programs follow this model? How many accredited architecture programs have articulated agreements with community colleges? What is the nature of the agreement/relationship? How many students typically transfer from a community college to an accredited architecture program? Role of Community College 7 The traditional role of many community colleges has been to train technicians, drafters, through a two- year vocational curriculum, however that role has become less viable; now, architectural firms typically hire students with a bachelor's degree for entry level positions which relegates drafters to other employers. Drafting positions are in less demand and the growth of technologies such as BIM requires candidates to have higher- level skills. For most community college programs, their role is two- fold: 1) to provide the technical skills for an entry- level job into a related profession at the technician level and 2) to prepare students for transfer to an architectural school of his/her choice. The program face challenges due to this dual purpose as different curriculums must be developed to accommodate the needs of the purposes. Oddly enough, students must take a different set of courses based on accredited architecture program to which they plan to apply, i.e., one architecture program may require calculus, while another may not. Reasons to attend Community College Students with a desire to become an architect begin their studies in a community college program for a of myriad of reasons: Economics clearly, the cost to attend a community college is considerably less than that of a university or college; when a student attends a community college and lives at home, they can save between $30-40 when compared to a university. Schedule many students in community college work upwards to 20 hours a week plus classes are typically scheduled to best accommodate such work schedules. Open Admissions most if not all community colleges have open admissions making it much easier for students to attend if their credentials from high school are not ideal for admission to a university; as well, high school counselors will recommend students to begin their post- high school education at the community college. 7 For purposes of this summary report, a short questionnaire was sent to 30 chairs/heads (10 replied) of architectural technology programs within community colleges to gain additional insight.

3 Place Bound as some students are either immigrants or first- generation college students, attending a community college allows these students be home while attending classes and accept family related responsibilities. Career Testing students are oftentimes experimenting, unsure of an education or career path, and unwilling to commit to a 4- year path. Challenges For transfer students, one of the greatest challenges is not having their credits transfer. In some instances, the courses transfer but do not count towards the desired degree (architecture); thus, students who transfer typically graduate with a much higher number of credits than the degree requires. From the College Board Report, Improving Student Transfer from Community Colleges to Four- Year Institutions, Four- year colleges and universities represent the pivotal gatekeepers in the transfer pathway, although they have rarely asserted their role in the transfer process. 8 It continues that recent events have created an urgency to investigate the viability of long- term merit of an improved transfer program. 9 To what extent will four- year colleges and universities heed this advice to improve their transfer program? To what extent will accredited architecture programs heed this advice to improve their transfer program? Further, a majority of chairs/heads that replied state that many accredited architecture programs do not provide transfer articulation or accept course equivalency meaning students are discouraged from transferring. In particular, one shared the following: Unfortunately, there are extremely few educational transfer options in architecture; most students must start the degree path again at the freshman level. A few exceptions have been selectively negotiated with four- year colleges, but this is a glaring problem in architectural education access opportunities for all. Many suggest that NAAB encourage accredited architecture programs to acknowledge community college level coursework; in other words, as part of the accreditation conditions, accredited architecture programs should develop transfer paths with community colleges. And while it would be impossible to consider accreditation for community colleges offering architecture related programs, community colleges would welcome some guidance to ease the transfer of credits. How can NAAB support the transfer of students from community colleges to accredited architecture programs? 8 College Board (2011). Improving Student Transfer from Community Colleges to Four- Year Institutions. New York, NY, p. 4 9 Ibid., p. 4

4 But according to the results of the second annual Pearson Foundation Community College Student Survey, community college students are having trouble gaining access to courses at the community college, with nearly four in 10 students (37%) unable to enroll in a class this semester because the class was full. 10 As should be no surprise, the cost of higher education is causing an increase in community college enrollment. According to the College Board, the average published yearly tuition and fees for a public two- year college (in- state students) is $2,690 and for public four- year college (in- state students) is $8,240; thus, the rate for a four- year college is over three times the cost of a two- year college. When tuition and fees is combined with housing, a student could easily save over $30K by attending a two- year college (living with parents) if their transfer credits are accepted in full. 11 Unfortunately, this is not always the case and some students must backtrack and take longer to complete their degree. Attending a community college saves costs; how does an accredited architecture program encourage students to attend a community college? Conclusion The role of community colleges in higher education is secure although some challenges still exist; however, it is not perfectly clear the role of community colleges in post- secondary architecture education. Through informal survey, individuals in leadership of architectural technology programs suggest involvement by NAAB in improving the transfer process. What can NAAB do to assist community colleges with architectural technology programs? Given the role of community colleges in post- secondary architecture education is lacking, it may be worthy for NAAB to solicit enrollment data on transfers from accredited architecture programs through its Annual Report process. While perhaps not within the mission of NAAB, the collection of this data would benefit the profession and improve the relationship between community colleges and accredited architecture programs. As well, NAAB may wish to provide its accreditation conditions to community college to further facilitate the transfer process; further, it may consider developing a version of the conditions for community colleges. 10 Pearson Foundation (2011). Community College Students Shut Out of Classes. New York, NY: Pearson Foundation. 11 College costs: FAQs - for- college/college- costs/college- costs- faqs - Retrieved June 9, 2012.

5 References American Association of Community Colleges (2012). - Retrieved May 21, College Board (2011). Improving Student Transfer from Community Colleges to Four- Year Institutions. New York, NY College Costs: FAQs - for- college/college- costs/college- costs- faqs - Retrieved June 9, Pearson Foundation (2011). Community College Students Shut Out of Classes. New York, NY: Pearson Foundation. Schneider, Carol G. (2005) "Liberal Education: Slip- Sliding Away?" Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk (ed. Richard H. Hersh and John Merrow), Pallgrave Macmillan

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