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PCCC's Self-Study: What it means for Students by Noah Pagella

Passaic County Community College credits could soon mean nothing if they do not receive their accreditation in 2024. Although this is a scary prospect, there is nothing to fear, as for fifty years, the school has always passed the accreditation process.


Accreditation is a regulatory process done by the state and federal government, alongside accreditation agencies, to ensure that colleges and universities are fit to educate. PCCC falls within the region of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


These agencies are meant to determine whether or not institutions meet their standards. If schools did not meet these standards, their credits would be essentially meaningless.


Every eight years schools must do a self-study to determine whether or not they are, themselves, meeting those seven standards. They judge themselves against those seven standards and gather evidence in a report to present to the accreditors.


Two years after the self-study process, the Middle States Commission will send over a team of people from other colleges. So in April of 2024, PCCC will go through this process, as a group of accreditors will come to the school, and talk to hundreds of people including students. They will see the evidence our school provides, and they will determine if everything the school says is accurate and true.


Dr. Steven Rose, PCCC President, when asked what students should know about the accreditation process said, “It’s important for the college, and it's important for the students. A good deal of our students get financial aid, and you want to go to a school that meets standards.”


Dr. Rose informed me that students at schools that are not accredited cannot receive financial aid. In addition, credits earned will likely not transfer to other colleges.


Furthermore Dr. Rose stated, “They look at our academic programs, and our support services for students. The standards are all focused on students. Are we running well fiscally; do faculty have the proper credentials to teach here?”


Dr. Rose believes it is important for students to understand what accreditation is, stating “It’s their college too, it doesn’t belong to just us; it belongs to all of us. You’re here for an education that will change your life and do great things for you. It’s important for students to always be a part of making the college better.”


One of the standards of accreditation is: Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience. This entails that “An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality. All learning experiences, regardless of modality, program pace/schedule, level, and setting are consistent with higher education expectations.” - msche.org


Dr. Rose made it a point that there are always projects for the college with students at the forefront. One specific project the school is working on currently is renovating the library. Dr. Rose said, “We’re going to be adding a “Genius Bar”; we're going to allow food in the library, more comfortable seating, and we are getting rid of a lot of the books. We're going to create more space for the students.”


He said that this change came as a result of student's wants and needs. These suggestions come directly from student suggestions and feedback; one big addition was the child care center, which came as a direct recommendation from the student government.


“We try to make sure students are involved,” said Dr. Rose.


On the off chance that PCCC fails the accreditation process, the college would be put on warning which means that they would have two years to clean up their act. This process is all about improvement, making sure that schools are constantly improving.


“We try to take a good honest look at ourselves as to what we can improve,” said Dr. Rose, “We think we're in pretty good shape, but it’s all about improving the institution.”


When asked how the school was planning on continuing to improve, Dr. Rose said, “It’s constant, there are new programs… the old firehouse is our new building. We are going to be teaching welding, solar technology, and potentially some HVAC in there… we're going to be building a building at Passaic County Tech, for automotive technology.”


“We're looking to get people jobs; we are constantly trying to add new programs to get people good jobs-- we’re looking to add a surgical tech program for people to work in operating rooms… We want to make sure we are teaching the right things, things that employers want.”


The mission statement is PCCC prepares each student for a prosperous future through education and holistic support. Essentially the school wants to make programs for its students to succeed along with supporting them while they are here.


The College’s vision is also defined alongside its mission, PCCC is a federally defined Minority Serving Institution aspiring to be a premier community college that leads, inspires, and supports individuals in reaching their educational and career goals in a timely manner.


One of the important standards for accreditation is that schools have a clear mission statement and sound goals. PCCC developed a new mission statement last year and is going to be worked toward for the next three to five years.


Dr. Rose made it a big point that PCCC works for its students, even going so far as to reach out to employers and asking them what kind of workers they need. This has led to the development of the new Surgical Tech Program. Because of this, PCCC will be building operating rooms in Passaic in order to train people.


“If we taught the same things we taught 30 years ago we would fall behind; we have to teach things that are responsive to students… We are constantly retraining faculty,” said Dr. Rose.


“My job and the job of the administrators here is to push people in order to make our programs as good as they can be.”


Above all, PCCC seems committed to helping its students prepare for the next step in their lives. Whether that be finding a job after their tenure with the college, or preparing them the best they can for higher education.


Schools are held to these seven standards:


Mission and Goals

“The institution’s mission defines its purpose within the context of higher education, the students it serves, and what it intends to accomplish. The institution’s stated goals are clearly linked to its mission and specify how the institution fulfills its mission.” - msche.org


Ethics and Integrity

“Ethics and integrity are central, indispensable, and defining hallmarks of effective higher education institutions. In all activities, whether internal or external, an institution must be faithful to its mission, honor its contracts and commitments, adhere to its policies, and represent itself truthfully.” - msche.org


Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience

“An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality. All learning experiences, regardless of modality, program pace/schedule, level, and setting are consistent with higher education expectations.” - msche.org


Support of the Student Experience

“Across all educational experiences, settings, levels, and instructional modalities, the institution recruits and admits students whose interests, abilities, experiences, and goals are congruent with its mission and educational offerings. The institution commits to student retention, persistence, completion, and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhances the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success.” - msche.org


Educational Effectiveness Assessment

“Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.”

- msche.org


Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement

“The institution’s planning processes, resources, and structures are aligned with each other and are sufficient to fulfill its mission and goals, to continuously assess and improve its programs and services, and to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges.” - msche.org


Governance, Leadership, and Administration

“The institution is governed and administered in a manner that allows it to realize its stated mission and goals in a way that effectively benefits the institution, its students, and the other constituencies it serves. Even when supported by or affiliated with the governmental, corporate, religious, educational system, or other unaccredited organizations, the institution has education as its primary purpose, and it operates as an academic institution with appropriate autonomy.”

- msche.org



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