Book by Nancy Remington & Ronald Remington
Review by Alyssa Mittleider
Department of Psychology
Iowa State University

Take a moment to consider how you would articulate the role of a community college.  Then take another moment to try to discern why you came to that conclusion: How was your opinion formed?  Is it from an implicit or explicit mission definition? How comfortable would you be with a significant deviation from the current status quo? In Alternative Pathways to the Baccalaureate, Remington & Remington posit that necessary changes will need to be made in higher education, namely that community colleges should be able to provide baccalaureate programs. Historically, this discussion has not been an easy or acceptable topic to broach.

One of the reasons for community college mission expansion comes from the current climate of US higher education in which there is significant pressure to increase degree completion.  President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative (White House, 2012) identifies community colleges as a vital part of this goal because they provide open access.  To address this, the authors advocate for a Community College Baccalaureate (CCB) degree option through which transfer issues would be minimized and completion maximized.  Education, nursing, and public service areas often offer the greatest potential impact for CCB programs.

There are significant roadblocks to the CCB movement.  State funding, mission expansion, accreditation, additional training and cultural change are among the potential issues.  Each state that currently allows these programs has made its own guidelines about the autonomy of the programs.  Florida, for example, has encouraged community colleges to expand offerings under the explicit condition that they would not morph into baccalaureate institutions; conversely, Louisiana State University – Alexandria was first approved to offer a bachelor’s degree in 2001 and now confers over half all degrees earned in the state as a four-year university (Remington & Remington, 2013, p. 72). 

The authors take a clear stance to promote four-year degree options within a community college context.  They provide both opinions and evidence to support the cause, as well as case studies from various successful programs.  However, as with any rhetoric, that also means that there is not as much time given to the opposing views.  The strength of the book lies in its ability to help the reader imagine a new, less traditional view of higher education.  While the CCB may not be the ultimate solution, readers will be given the freedom to unabashedly consider new options.

This book will not likely have a direct impact on day-to-day advising, but advisors with an interest in the political climate of higher education may be interested.  Change-makers can come from all levels of the educational system, especially when cultural change is required.  No matter your role in an institution or your opinion of the CCB, this book will ask you to consider the future of higher education.  Will we be willing to change or will we require our students to find ways to conform to the status quo? Will we take the challenge to “suspend…categorical thinking and get unstuck” from our traditional ways (Remington & Remington, p. 4)?

Remington, N., & Reminton, R. (Eds.). (2013). Alternative Pathways to the Baccalaureate: Do community colleges offer a viable solution to the nation’s knowledge deficit? Sterling, VA: Stylus

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (2012). FACT SHEET: President Obama’s blueprint for keeping college affordable and within reach for all Americans [Press Release]. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/27/fact-sheet-president-obama-s-blueprint-keeping-college-affordable-and-wi.

Alternative Pathways to the Baccalaureate: Do community colleges offer a viable solution to the nation’s knowledge deficit? (2013). Book by Nancy Remington & Ronald Remington (Eds.). Review by Alyssa Mittleider. Serling, VA: Stylus, 211 pp. $29.00. ISBN # 978-1-57922-875-0
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