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Community colleges have historically addressed the needs of a diverse population (Walker, 2001). A key goal for community colleges is to be a resource for all segments of the community (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2000). Walker (2001) reinforced this directive by stating that the community college purpose was “to bring higher education in its various forms into the community” (p. 9).
Community colleges have concentrated much of their attention on several subpopulations within the community, such as students in vocational training or certificate programs and academically under-prepared students (Outcalt, 1999). As the numbers of students increase, community colleges are becoming aware of other subpopulations and their needs. A sub-population found at community colleges that is gaining more attention is academically well-prepared students (Skau, 1989). One way that community colleges have addressed the special requirements of this subpopulation is by offering honors classes or an honors program to challenge these students and prepare them for transition to four-year institutions (Outcalt, 1999).
Outcalt (1999) maintains that a major function of community colleges is to prepare their students for transfer to four-year institutions. Even as community colleges prepare their students for transfer to four-year institutions, however, 79% of the students experience a phenomenon termed “transfer shock” (Diaz, 1992). This phenomenon was first described by Hills (1965) and was defined as an appreciable drop in grade point average (GPA) upon transfer to a four-year university.