Montgomery College examines ways to cut cost, streamline student success

Montgomery College President DeRionne P. Pollard said in a Wednesdayspeech the institution is working to better align its courses with four-year school requirements, provide consistent experiences for students across its three campuses and maintain affordability, among other goals.

Students must receive an education at the college that is “deeply relevant and highly connected” to the school they want to do transfer to, Pollard said in her third annual State of the College address at the school’s Rockville campus.

Many students enter Montgomery College with plans to transfer to a four-year institution, she said, but the college currently requires students take general education courses that don’t always transfer to a student’s next school.

As a result, some students decide not to complete their degree at the college, Pollard said.

College faculty are currently studying the general education curriculum to make sure students can transfer with their Montgomery credits and learn what they need to in the courses, she said.

Montgomery College is also working to provide more consistency among the academics at its Rockville, Germantown and Takoma Park/Silver Spring campuses, Pollard said.

Pollard accepted in March a series of “academic restructuring” recommendations, including one to organize the college’s academic disciplines under four units.

The college’s efforts will help it “realign in many different ways around critical curriculum issues,” she said.

In a video shown during her address, several college students described issues they face related to inconsistencies between campuses, including the use of different textbooks at different campuses and the availability of certain classes limited to a particular campus.

Pollard said the college is also focused on affordability in a landscape where the college has seen a 60-percent increase over the last five years in financial aid applications.

Part of that work should involve making course materials more affordable, she said, citing the example of open sourcing used at the University of Maryland.

The issue of affordability has also raised questions the college is still considering, she said, such as whether the institution should charge more for higher-cost programs, provide a fast track for some students, or offer a discount to students who take classes at less popular times.

Pollard also addressed recent recommendations from a task force that studied the college’s achievement gaps.

The group called for a wide range of measures that the college plans to implement, including increased mentoring services and more African-American and Hispanic faculty and staff.

“They did not hold back any punches,” she said.

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