At the New York Times, "Opening Up a Path to Four-Year Degrees":
PHILADELPHIA — At the end of his first year at the Community College of Philadelphia, Christopher Thomas decided that his goal — to go back to school and get a degree — was no longer worth it. He was in debt from thousands of dollars in student loans. After class, he rode a bus an hour and a half to a suburban restaurant where he worked as a waiter. When the shift ended at midnight, it took him three buses to get home. He couldn’t afford a computer, so in the middle of the night, he walked to his aunt’s house and used hers to finish his class work.I don't know about this.
He got seven A’s and a C, but the plan was for eight.
Mr. Thomas was 36, living in a spare bedroom at his grandmother’s house and doing much of his sleeping on the Route 124 bus. “I’m done,” he told friends.
But he wasn’t. A woman in the college’s Institutional Advancement department, Patricia Conroy, kept sending e-mails about a $2,000 scholarship. “WHY DON’T YOU APPLY FOR THIS,” she wrote. He won one. Professors spoke about his promise. Friends said it would be a crime.
“My dream of a 4.0 was gone,” he said. “I figured what it would take for a 3.9. If I aced out, I still might not make it, but a 3.89 was possible.”
Actually, he finished with a 3.91. This fall he will enter the University of Pennsylvania.
Increasingly, the students here are making that jump. Dawn-Stacy Joyner, a former hospital cook, will also attend the University of Pennsylvania. Nine women graduating this spring have been accepted to Bryn Mawr. Larry Thi, who hopes to become a teacher, transferred to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“There’s been a major acceleration the last few years,” said Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa, the community college honor society.
It’s partly the economic collapse. The Community College of Philadelphia costs $4,400 a year for city residents; the most expensive private colleges are $60,000. Getting an associate degree first can save $100,000.
“These students are choosing community colleges with the intention that this is their path to selective institutions,” Mr. Risley said.
Students like Christopher Thomas are extremely atypical, in my experience. As are the other students also mentioned at the article, including the author's own kid. Maybe the Times needs a larger sample. As I reported earlier, 90 percent of students at my college are taking remedial courses --- and frankly, if I had just a handful of students who were aiming for a 4.0 I'd be delighted. It's just not working out like that. See: "Cost of ignorance - Ill-prepared students a burden for colleges," and "Remedial classes are draining CSULB budget."
I applaud all hard-working students like those cited at the Times, but we're going to need a lot more kids like that.