High school counselors’ views on community colleges

High school counselors generally feel prepared to advise students about community colleges when it comes to their cost and how to enroll, but they are less confident in knowing about the deeper details, such as transfer policies at local four-year colleges and differences between community colleges and for-profit colleges, according to a new survey.

One area private, parochial and public high school counselors don’t feel prepared to discuss with students is trade certification and licensing offered at community colleges, according to the survey by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. More than one-third of survey participants said they were “not at all prepared” to discuss that, with nearly 40 percent reporting they were “slightly prepared.” One-fifth said they were “moderately prepared.”

In general, public high school counselors reported having more knowledge about community colleges. For example, in regards to the question about trade certification, 40 percent of public secondary school counselors felt confident talking about it with students, compared to 22 percent at parochial and 17 percent at private non-parochial schools.

Support opportunities

Survey participants also were asked about support — such as professional development, communication with community college admissions staff and school-based functions — they received that could help them advise students on community college and transferring. Overall, 55 percent said they received professional development in the past three years, and 41 percent did so in the past year, according to the survey. Again, more counselors at public schools said they received professional development, with 50 percent saying they participated in such activities in the past three years and 64 percent said they did so over the past year.

Public school counselors also had the most direct contact with community college admissions staff. Forty-nine percent said they did so frequently and 37 percent did so occasionally, compared to counselors at parochial schools (16 percent said frequently and 44 percent said occasionally) and private non-parochial schools (9 percent and 27 percent, respectively). Three percent of public school counselors said they don’t have such contact at all, compared with a one-quarter of counselors at private non-parochial schools.

Researchers also asked counselors about their thoughts on educational offerings at community colleges. More than 85 percent of counselors at all types of high schools said they somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that community colleges offer rigorous academic coursework. Counselors at public schools were much more likely to strongly agree that community colleges offer rigorous academic coursework (42 percent) compared to private school counterparts (23 percent at parochial and 25 percent at private non-parochial).

In addition, the survey showed that nearly 95 percent of participants somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that community colleges offer cost savings to students who would like to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Almost 90 percent said the same about the ease of transferring from a community colleges to a four-year institution.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.