DCCC student succeeds despite setbacks


Arielle Cyler, 25, is a DCCC alumna and a YMCA assistant lead teacher, who majored in early childhood education is earning a bachelor’s at Neumann University. Photo by Nicholas Gallo.

By Nicholas Gallo

Arielle Cyler, 25, majored in early childhood education and began DCCC in the fall semester of 2012 to spring semester of 2015.

Once homeless in Atlanta, Ga, Cyler said she endured many difficult and different experiences during her time at DCCC, including the death of a loved one and culture shock. Through all of these experiences, Cyler’s professors kept helping her along the way.

“Each professor I had gave me a great experience,” Cyler said. “They gave me confidence and I was able to believe that I could achieve more.”

Cyler attended Clark Atlanta University, despite her family being homeless. Eventually, the family decided to move to Pennsylvania in May 2012.

At first, Cyler was in denial about moving. “It was a complete culture shock,” she said. In order to better cope with the change, Cyler visited a DCCC psychology professor.

“Professor Bob Torres helped me ease into the community and definitely made the move an easier transition for me,” she said.

Cyler was involved in many activities and clubs while attending DCCC. She worked in the bookstore to make friends. She was also the vice president of Women in STEM, and actively participated in the Bible Club.

Although community colleges have helped students like Cyler to move forward in their education or career, the schools recently have been struggling with transfer success rates.

According to The Hechinger Report, an independent nonprofit organization that focuses on the overall problems facing the American education system, most low income students go to community college. One study that was reported on January 19, 2016, states that only 36 percent of low income students who transfer complete a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared to 44 percent of middle-and upper income students. The study is about transfer success rates, and how to help lower-income transfer students finish bachelor’s degrees.

The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, a nonprofit volunteer membership association, advocates for Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges with a combined 12 branch campuses and 87 instructional sites in 44 Pennsylvania counties.

The commission’s primary purpose is to advance the interest of Pennsylvania’s community colleges. DCCC is one of those schools.

According to a 2017 report by CNN Money, DCCC has a 39 percent success rate. The report shows prospective students and schools giving students the best chance of transferring to a four year-college or university.

U.S. News reported in 2013 that DCCC had a graduation rate of 14 percent and a transfer-out rate of 27 percent.

Over the years, DCCC has been in the process of improving those numbers by offering resources for students who want to transfer to a four-year university. Among them are dual admission programs, along with 21 special partnership agreements with universities around the Delaware County area.

For instance, The Villanova University agreement offers guaranteed admission to their College of Professional Studies for qualified DCCC students. However, students need to file an intent to enroll form before completing 30 college credits.

Advantages of dual admission include guaranteed admission, merit scholarships, a 20 percent tuition reduction program with a 3.3 GPA or higher, and Phi Theta Kappa scholarships with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Other participant schools include Temple University, West Chester University, and St. Joseph University.

Additionally, the DCCC Transfer Office help students search for colleges and universities by offering transfer advisors who navigate them through enrollment in dual admission/guaranteed admissions programs, create an academic plan to meet their transfer requirements, and provide tips on essays and references.

DCCC’s Transfer Office further offers workshops and events for students that are trying to transfer, and provides interested students the opportunity to meet with a representative from select colleges and universities. Bus tours to other colleges are also periodically available.

Along with the transfer office, DCCC offers an online resource called Transfer Check. Transfer Check assists students in smoothly completing and transferring DCCC degrees to four year institutions by following money and time-saving transfer agreements.

Students can also run a real-time transfer progress check to see how their courses applied to specially selected agreements.

Today, Cyler works at the Rocky Run YMCA as an assistant lead teacher for the Child Development Center. Cyler is also working on a degree in early childhood education at Neumann University.

Because of her experience at DCCC, Cyler’s education is now being paid for by the YMCA Rising Stars Tuition Assistance Program a scholarship which will pay 95 percent of her tuition since she is pursuing a career in early childhood education.

“I love the DCCC community,” Cyler said. “There is always a club for being the person who you are at DCCC.”

Contact Nicholas Gallo at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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