... LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP
Each student’s plan must be developed
and understood by both student and
parents to complete the buy-in.”
The registration process is VVC’s
own, but its generic character fits any
student for entry into a state public
college or university. It is not framed to
make VVC the automatic choice. Some
will choose nearby Cal State at San
Bernardino, for example. Others might
qualify for the University of California.
In any case, participating students can
find a peer mentor who is already suc-
ceeding in college among the members
of VVC’s ASB.
You’ve heard of the three Rs in
education—reading, writing, and arithmetic. The Bridge has its own three Rs:
relevance, rigor, and relationships.
Each incoming ASB gets the jump
on the coming college year by convening a four-day retreat in the Big Bear
Mountains, at which ideas from each
member are narrowed into a schedule
of priorities with hardened timetables
for the year.
“Invariably, the Bridge ranks high for
personal action with most board mem-
bers, because it is so consistent with the
ideals on which this tradition is built,”
says Robert A. Sewell, VVC’s director of
auxiliary services and an ASB adviser
and mentor. “Since California’s budget
woes are forcing some state four-year
schools to cap freshman enrollments,
the recession magnifies the enrollment
pressure on community colleges. The
Bridge puts VVC a step ahead, because
the advance registration from high
schools has the surge built in.”
Retention is another big dividend.
VVC data on 2008 high school students
entering the college show that reten-
tion rates for those who entered VCC
via the Bridge program are more than
twice that of those who didn’t—84
percent versus 39 percent.
It’s a model that ought to catch the
eye of the White House, especially as
President Obama pushes Congress to
make community colleges a stronger
partner in workforce, community, and
economic development through college
to career readiness initiatives.
FRANK MENSEL is a senior research fellow in
education with the University of Alabama
and the University of North Texas and is
national adviser to the American Student
Association of Community Colleges on
public policy and research.