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At a Glance

Gain deep insight into the strategies and solutions institutions are using to improve student outcomes. Some are well-known but little understood. Others are small in nature but show great promise.

This special report from Inside Higher Ed explores the major reforms galvanizing two-year colleges and the four-year institutions that partner with them. The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), guided pathways, transfer solutions and finally a deep dive into California State University’s effort to more than double its four-year graduation rate are the cornerstones of this special report.

The stakes are high for creating financially sustainable reforms. It’s our hope that this report will apprise readers of the hard work needed to follow promising reforms with fidelity rather than fall victim to their simpler, ersatz versions. College leaders may be familiar with strong reform models for improving student success, but they risk taking shortcuts without greater awareness of the complexities that lie ahead.

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Topics Include

  • The City University of New York’s project to improve graduation rates for community college students seeking associate degrees
  • The challenges that college goers with children endure; the daily challenges of course work and limited finances that millions of other students experience in pursuit of a degree, but with added strain.
  • How institutions are adopting guided pathways models and the work it takes to do so.
  • The prevalence of transfer students and how institutions can better serve them and tighten leaky pipelines.
  • How Cal State has prioritized completion and how degree completion is tied to higher ed funding.
  • Snapshots on free alternatives to textbooks, STEM pathways, emergency aid and more.


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

CUNY’s ASAP Program, at Scale

     Serving Student Parents

Guided Pathways to Graduation

     Basic Needs at Compton College

Transferring to a Four-Year College

     App for Emergency Aid

    STEM Pathways

Prioritizing Completion at Cal State

     Equity and Free Alternatives to Textbooks


Further Reading

About the Author


This report was made possible in part by the financial support of ECMC Foundation.

About the Author: Mikhail Zinshteyn, a freelance reporter and writer for various outlets, focuses on higher education and workforce development. In 2019, Mikhail’s reporting has appeared in The Washington Post, PBS, Christian Science Monitor, The 74, The Hechinger Report and AARP. From 2017 to 2019, Mikhail reported on higher education and charter schools in California for the news outlet EdSource. He has also been a contributing writer for The Atlantic and The Hechinger Report, covering both K-12 and higher ed issues. Previously, Mikhail was a program manager at the Education Writers Association. He took one community college course in high school. Pell Grants helped fund Mikhail’s undergraduate education. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and a graduate degree at the London School of Economics.


Number of Pages: 75 (10.2 MB PDF)


Date Released: November 18, 2019


ISBN (print edition): 978-1-7327300-4-5


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