Pasadena City College Named Among 10 Finalists for 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for Second Year

PCC recognized among top Community Colleges in the nation. – Courtesy photo / Prayitno (CC BY 2.0)

$1 Million Prize Recognizes Excellence in Community College Student Success Outcomes; Winner to be Announced in April 2019

Pasadena City College was named as one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Prize recognizes institutions from over 1,000 community colleges nationwide that achieve highly and improve student outcomes. Focused solely on student access and success, the Aspen Prize recognizes community colleges with exceptional achievements in four areas:

-Student learning

-Certificate and degree completion while in community college and after transferring to a four-year institution

-Employment and earnings rates after graduation

-Access for and success of minority and low-income students.

In April 2019, the $1 million Prize purse will be awarded at an event in Washington, D.C. to the winner, two or three finalists-with-distinction, and a “Rising Star” that has achieved exceptional levels of improvement. Between now and then, Aspen will work with a team of national experts to collect extensive, additional data and conduct multi-day site visits to the 10 finalist colleges.

“Pasadena City College has taken great strides to ensure that students learn what they need to be successful not only while in community college but also after they transfer to a four-year university,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “Faculty are at the center of making improvements, working to ensure that the college’s very diverse students receive a uniformly high-quality education.”

Pasadena City College, also named a 2017 Aspen Prize Finalist, stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:

-Impressive transfer practices that include specialized advising for students who aim to transfer to a four-year college, leading to a rate of transfer to four-year colleges that is eight percentage points above the national average (33 percent).

-Among students who transfer, over half achieve a bachelor’s degree within six years of having entered community college, well above the national average (42 percent).

-A strong focus on improving outcomes for low-income students and students of color that includes scaled faculty efforts to identify and address gaps in course success to college-wide efforts to increase diversity within faculty ranks.

-Dedicated services for large numbers of war veterans, including a newly-remodeled resource center, and a transition course designed specifically for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Community colleges today enroll about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates – six million students – who are working toward earning degrees and certificates. Improving student success across the more than 1,000 community colleges in the U.S. is critical to national efforts to develop talent and enable individual social mobility, because:

-Community colleges disproportionally enroll low-income and minority students enrolled in college today.

-Community college graduation rates remain flat, with fewer than 40 percent of all entering students earning a degree and/or transferring to a four-year college or university.

-A college degree is today more important than ever before; recent research shows that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million require a college education.

The 10 Aspen Prize Finalists have achieved strong and improving student success rates in very different contexts – they are from rural and urban areas, serve demographically different student bodies, and offer a varied mix of technical workforce and academic transfer programs. These 10 institutions offer proof that every community college can achieve higher levels of success for students while in college and after they graduate.

May 15, 2018

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