Changing the Conversation: Measures That Contribute to Community College Education Abroad Success

Changing the Conversation: Measures That Contribute to Community College Education Abroad Success

Rosalind Latiner Raby (California State University Northridge, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6252-8.ch001
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Community college literature uses three distinct narratives to explain why few community colleges offer education abroad and why limited numbers of community college students study abroad. This chapter explores the viability of these narratives and counters them by showing that non-traditional community college students understand the role of education abroad to enhance their personal and professional growth, are capable of making sound decisions, and are able to balance work, school, and family. The chapter concludes with a discussion on how weak institutional choices remain the most important element that negatively impacts the choice to study abroad.
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I have been studying community college education abroad since 1985 and have published extensively on the changing field. I have charted the growth, identified the components required for success, analyzed the barriers, and shown how student success stems from studying abroad. In re-examining conclusions from the field, I have come to the realization that commonly held beliefs about why community college students do not study abroad are largely inaccurate as they are grounded on archaic stereotypes of student deficit characteristics. Even more problematic is that these stereotypes are used to ground community college policies and in turn, these policies negatively impact access and limit growth in the number of community colleges that offer education abroad (Raby, 2018).

Barrier literature claims that non-traditional students are less interested and/or unable to study abroad (Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad, 2014). Non-traditional is defined by one or more of the following characteristics, low SES levels, students of color, being first-generation, working full-time, being academically under-prepared, and being an adult (Ross-Gordon, 2011). While adult status is given at the age of 18 to vote and to serve in the military, higher education defines adult as being over the age of 25 (Kasworm, 1990; IPEDS, 2018) with multiple classifications including “nontraditional-age students” (Jacob, 2017), “post-traditional learners” (Soares, Gagliardi, Nellum, 2017), and “career-students” (Jacob, 2017). Traditional students are those who enroll after secondary education and are full-time, while non-traditional students delay entrance, study part-time and are more racially and socioeconomically diverse (Soares, Gagliardi, Neelum, 2017). The percentage of adult and older adult students vary from college to college (Van Noy and Heidkamp, 2017).

Barrier literature at the student level focuses on cultural background, family support, and financial ability (Sanchez, Fornerino, & Zhang, 2006; Trombly, Salisbury, Tumanut & Klute, 2012). At the institutional level, barriers include lack of staff, lack of budget, and graduation requirements that limit choices (Loberg, 2012). Institutional barriers reflect a deficit narrative that guides choices to offer (or not) education abroad. There are noted dangers to adopting a deficit narrative as it provides differential educational experiences that counter the open access mission of the community college (Raby, 2018).

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