In a continued effort to reduce college costs, College of the Canyons will launch the First Year Promise program, a pathway that will provide increased opportunities for new full-time college students to achieve their educational goals, through a $667,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
Out of 51 community college districts that applied, COC was one of only 14 colleges awarded a California College Promise Innovation Program grant.
“This grant will be instrumental in knocking down the many barriers students face to reach their educational goals,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “The college’s ‘First Year Promise’ program will not only reduce the financial burden for new full-time students, it will also enhance their ability to succeed and build a foundation for lifelong learning.”
In an annual student survey conducted by COC, the cost of textbooks was identified as a top barrier to achieving educational goals by 75 percent of students surveyed; 35 percent of students reported they cannot afford any textbooks.
In response, the college has encouraged the use of Open Educational Resources (OER), which are teaching and learning materials that have been released in the public domain or under an intellectual property license as a no-cost alternative to costly commercial textbooks.
According to the nonprofit College Board, the cost of textbooks and supplies average $1,390 per year for students at a public two-year in-district commuter school.
By using OER materials instead of commercial textbooks, COC students save an estimated $1.5 million each year.
In the fall 2017 semester, COC will introduce an Associate Degree-Transfer in sociology, which will provide students a guaranteed transfer to a California State University campus by taking only OER-based courses that do not require the purchase of costly commercial textbooks.
Additional resources that are available to students to alleviate college costs include an Associated Student Government food bank, access to child care at the Early Childhood Education Centers at the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses, on-campus bus stops, as well as a robust financial aid department and scholarship program.
COC’s aggressive outreach efforts to local high schools have helped many students jump-start their college careers and save money.
The college expanded its College Now! program to allow all William S. Hart Union High School District juniors and seniors to enroll in COC courses without having to leave their high school campus or pay enrollment fees.
Participating high school students receive concurrent enrollment status, which allows them to enroll in any degree-applicable coursework offered at the Valencia campus, Canyon Country campus or online.
Part of the William S. Hart Union High School District, Academy of the Canyons (AOC) is a middle college high school located at the college’s Valencia campus that also provides students with concurrent enrollment status. In addition, AOC introduces high school students to college culture, which builds a foundation for lifelong learning.
The college’s “Accelerate Your Dreams to Reality” project nearly tripled students’ chances of completing college-level courses by introducing the accelerated courses Math 75 and English 96.
For students who are not majoring in fields related to science, technology, engineering or math, Math 75 paves the way for college-level statistics by replacing a two-course sequence of basic and intermediate algebra, while English 96 replaces a two-course sequence that prepares students for the transfer-level curriculum in just one course.
Of note, the implementation of these accelerated courses helped save more than 600,000 hours of remedial instruction and more than $1,650,000 in tuition costs for remedial courses that are not applicable toward earning associate degrees.
“Our reputation for institutional effectiveness, data-driven initiatives, and dedication to reducing higher education costs sets us apart as a college,” said Van Hook. “We are very excited to implement the First Year Promise program to continue supporting course completion and student success.”
The First Year Promise program is scheduled to launch this fall with 300 qualifying students.
Eligible incoming students will enroll in a one-year sequence of courses with priority registration, preceded by summer orientation to learn about majors and receive academic guidance.
FYP courses will be offered with the benefits of OER textbooks and other learning community elements. To ensure participating students remain on track, ongoing counseling and student support will also be offered.
Additionally, each FYP student will receive a $100 voucher per semester that can be applied toward other supplies and instructional materials. Free computer lab printing services will also be provided by the college.