September 12, 2017
New Postsecondary Initiatives
The PIC has been providing postsecondary coaching services to Boston students since 2008 in partnership with Success Boston, the city’s college completion initiative. As one of nine Success Boston coaching organizations, the PIC employs six postsecondary coaches who help students make their way through college toward graduation and a successful career.
As of August 2017, the PIC has coached a total of 818 students, and is recruiting 175 more students for its 2017-18 cohort. Coaches focus on supporting students at two-year colleges, including Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, Benjamin Franklin Institute for Technology, and Quincy College, and also coach students who transfer from these institutions to UMass Boston.
The PIC places a career preparation emphasis in its coaching, in line with our work as a Workforce Development Board and school-to-career intermediary. PIC postsecondary coaches provide career interest assessments and opportunities for jobs and internships for many of their students, and prioritize recruitment of high school seniors who had PIC summer jobs to Success Boston. PIC postsecondary students have had jobs at companies like Apple, Starbucks and Turner Construction.
The GPA Placement Project
One of the biggest challenges for community college students is testing into developmental courses, which review high school-level material and do not provide credits toward an associate's degree. Over the last decade, colleges have started to experiment with new approaches to helping students accelerate through the developmental phase—or avoid it entirely—because many students become discouraged at their lack of progress and choose to drop out. Three years ago, the Commonwealth’s community colleges piloted a program that allowed students with a GPA of 2.7 or higher to opt out of developmental math, and enroll directly into credit bearing courses. The pilot went so well that BHCC, where a majority of PIC-coached postsecondary students attend, expanded the program to include developmental English this past year. In 2017, the college hired a specialized program coordinator, allowing the program to expand from 100 students at the start of 2017 to 400 students to date. PIC coaches have been enthusiastic supporters of the GPA Placement Project. Last year, 15 PIC-coached first-year students participated in the pilot, and so far this year, 30 first-year students are participating.
Tuition Free Community College Plan
Mayor Walsh launched the Tuition-Free Community College Plan to make community college more affordable for graduates of Boston high schools. The plan pays for the costs of tuition and fees that are not covered by the Pell grant. The goal is to enable more students to access the benefits of college with fewer financial barriers. The plan is administered by the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development. Boston high school students must earn at least a 2.0 GPA and attend a participating community college to be eligible for the plan. Those colleges include Bunker Hill Community College, MassBay Community College, or Roxbury Community College.