Of all the programs around the country attempting to improve community college student graduation rates, the one probably attracting the most notice is the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) in New York City.
The project has nearly doubled the three-year graduation rate for students who start out in remedial classes. Ohio recently announced that it will replicate the program at its Cuyahoga Community College.
Here are some more numbers, according to a newsletter from the American Association of Community Colleges:
The results are staggering: Forty percent of the participating students graduated within three years, compared with 22 percent outside the program and 15 percent nationwide. ASAP also increased college enrollment and credits earned, lowered the cost per degree and raised the number of students transferring to four-year colleges.
A downside may be the cost up front, but CUNY has found some outside sources of revenue for the project, and it appears to pay off.
The program provides students with three years of "wraparound" academic and financial assistance, including free textbooks, a Metro Card for public transportation, and a tuition waiver that covers any gap between a student’s financial aid and tuition fees.
Importantly, the program hinges on requirements from participating students: They must attend college full time and are encouraged to take remedial courses early and graduate within three years. Participation involves mandatory tutoring, career advising, and seminars on topics like study skills and goal setting, according to the article.
A lot of schools around the country are already doing these things, but it seems like adopting the whole package achieves the best results. One might be tempted to dismiss the free Metro Card, but students often drop out because they don't have reliable transportation. All major Texas cities have mass transit systems.
Here is a nice brochure on ASAP. Please have a look.