Doña Ana Community College began in 1973 with a focus on preparing licensed practical nursing, welding, real estate, sales and marketing, and secretarial skills training. Since then, DACC has continued to focus upon technical education in the health sciences, trades, business, information systems, fire and paramedic fields. However, as Khadaroo points out, the comprehensive community college mission has expanded to include a focus on assisting students with obtaining their general education courses and successfully transferring to a four-year college or university to complete their bachelor's degree.
DACC has been presented with an opportunity to support the students who come to us with the intention of completing general education courses and transferring to New Mexico State University. Our unique relationship with NMSU as a branch within a larger system should negate the competition for students. Changes in NMSU admission requirements means that students who previously applied and began attending NMSU are coming to DACC to take advantage of the Guaranteed Pathway to NMSU.
What does this mean to DACC faculty, staff and administration? First, we need to embrace the transfer mission. This does not mean that technical education is any less important or vital to our students and community. However, it means we are serving students whose educational goal is to obtain a bachelor's degree rather than a technical credential. Second, we need to support students in their goal to transfer. This means we need to help them select classes than not only TRANSFER, but count toward DEGREE REQUIREMENTS. This is an important distinction that we need to teach our students. As we help students learn the difference, we also need to work with NMSU on course and degree alignment whenever possible, particularly within degree programs designed to transfer. Third, it means we need to identify barriers that students encounter when transferring to NMSU and work closely with our sister institution to lower the barrier or eliminate them altogether.
As more and more emphasis is placed upon degree attainment, the importance of DACC and NMSU collaborating to ensure completion become more significant. So, as we begin our journey in intentionally helping students in their transfer goals, lets remember that we are fulfilling our mission as a community college by ensuring that student learning comes first.
The article referenced above:
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, "A Better Path to a Bachelor's?", The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, May 12, 2014, 21-24.