Pathways to College - Feb 14, 2024

Joyce Judy (President, Community College of Vermont) told the House Education Committee on Wednesday that CCV is one of two institutions which make up the Vermont State Colleges. They complement each other and present a strong system where 95% of students are Vermonters. They actively serve about 10,000 Vermonters – some are full time and some are just taking one course.

There are some that question the value of college. Judy was troubled by two things about this narrative First, she claimed that the people who are spreading this narrative are either in the middle or upper classes and it’s taking hold among the lower income families which is splitting the social divide even further. She claimed to have data that will support her concerns. She quoted Dean Davis, who said we are incredibly rich with talent in Vermont but those with talent are not going to give up their jobs to teach. So, a part time school was created, and its structure influenced by businesses and communities.  She emphasized that we need to make sure there is a trained workforce ready to support both our businesses and communities.

Judy noted that they have developed dual enrollment and have created ‘access days’ where students come to CCV location for half-day or full-day. Business sponsor access days, such as hospitals, technology, or manufacturing firms. Over 900 students participate in access days from twenty-two schools. The McClure Foundation and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) and other sources also fund these opportunities.

The second piece along this continuum (to post-secondary education) is the introduction of college courses for 9th and 10th graders which are offered in the form of a college course but no credits are awarded. These are targeted at marginalized populations, low income, or first-generation college students.

Also on the continuum is a dual enrollment program where students actually attend within the high school or Technical Education Center. Judy did comment, however, that she thinks attending a CCV location is very beneficial to the student, rather than them going into a high school.

There is also a component on the continuum called FAST FORWARD at Tech Centers. Currently there are 900 students enrolled and they earn college credits. They ensure the programs are very rigorous, so the credits really stand for something when being transferred into a full-time college.

There is also the early college program which allows high school students to take all their academic courses at CCV while still participating in their high school sports, drama, etc. programs. The McClure Foundation said they would fund their second year of college so that the students first two years of college would be free. They had 140 students take advantage of this opportunity last year and this year they have 234.

Judy was asked by a Committee member whether it hurts a high schools AP courses by “taking out the brightest students.” She responded that it was about offering the student the best choice for them. It’s the same barrier between tech centers and high schools. The focus should be on what is the best for the student.

Brandon Kennedy (Assistant Director of Admissions, Vermont State University) noted that their programs are available both on-line and in person on campuses and that the courses are available to students through the flexible pathways concept, including:

  1. Early college program.
  2. Vermont Academy of Science and Technology (an alternate statewide high school) which focuses on STEM and is accredited.
  3. Dual enrollment program.
  4. Fast Forward Programs.

He noted they don’t require students in early college to declare a major as they are still exploring possibilities. Students are under a lot of pressure to make decisions so early college allows them to explore their options. Some know exactly what they want to do and pursue those courses. They encourage their students to stay in contact with their high schools and participate in activities. 

Vermont Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) programs are offered in Randolph and Williston campuses only. They require 15 hours a semester and the students must maintain a 2.0 GPA. Depending on the course, the student may be required to take one year of math, science and/or English.

Tuition and related fees are fully covered by Act 77. The only cost to the student is fees outside of the program, housing, etc. This rigorous program is not for everyone. Students with 2.5 GPA or higher are awarded $2k scholarships to continue.


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