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Community colleges look to partnerships for options

Mills College admissions officers said that a new four-year degree program begun by a local community college this past fall will not affect future transfer admissions.

Ca¤ada Community College, located in Redwood City, has created a program in which students will continue their studies on the community college’s campus while earning a four-year degree from a participating partner institution, such as Hayward State and other California State Universities.

Ca¤ada received a one million dollar grant from the state of California to fund a pilot effort under which local state universities will offer programs on the Ca¤ada campus.

According to Todd Foster, director of public relations, the program was implemented at Ca¤ada Community College this past fall, with the goal of starting similar programs at other community colleges.

Although approximately 75 percent of Mills transfer students come from community colleges, according to Avis Hinkson, dean of admissions, she does not think that Mills transfer admissions will be negatively affected by the new program.

Students have varying needs and some will always see Mills as an opportunity and a valuable next step,” Hinkson said. “Many transfers I’ve talked to appreciate their experience at community college, but they are ready to move on to something different and Mills offers a great experience,” she added.

Peggy Reeves, a junior transfer student from Los Medanos College, a community college in Pittsburg, Calif., agrees. Although she had the option of attending Hayward State, Reeves chose Mills. “My preference was the smaller private setting that Mills could offer and that Hayward couldn’t. Once I learned of Mills, I knew it was where I wanted to go.”

The ability to gain a four-year degree at community colleges is a valuable asset for some students, said Hinkson. But, at a small college like Mills, attention to individual students is higher than at the larger universities.

Regardless of Mills’ small college appeal, some student’s will be attracted to the options offered by Ca¤ada and similar programs.

According to Foster, Ca¤ada is one of the only Northern California community colleges with a wide variety of academic programs. These include degrees ranging from child development to business administration to computer science. Ca¤ada’s many degree options made the community college the top choice for the pilot program.

“The whole premise is to increase access, [and] to make it as easy as possible for students to continue their education,” said Foster.

Students in the program are taught by faculty from the four-year college and pay tuition at the four-year college rates. The state benefits from the program by permitting students to attend classes on the community college campuses, which eases overcrowding by utilizing the community college facilities.

Despite the many appealing qualities of Ca¤ada, and similar programs, Mills students confirm that Mills has something to offer that larger, public schools cannot.

Transfer students have specific needs and we’re committed to providing for them, Hinkson said.

Jean Fanslow, a sophomore transfer from Laney College in Oakland said “instructors [at Mills] seem to actually care about their jobs. They are easy to approach, consistent and open,” a characteristic often associated with smaller liberal arts schools.

“Mills thinks outside the box in terms of what an education means for an individual,” said sophomore and transfer student, P.L. Grove.