report to McCoy’s office on March 8, detailing its recommendations.

In regards to fiscal policy and planning, it said, “The County should communicate with the other regional counties to assure that our students are provided the best education and the County taxpayers are treated fairly compared to the host counties. The current agreement between Albany County and Hudson Valley Community College places a disproportionate financial burden on Albany relative to Rensselaer County and has so for a number of years. Given the disparate financial commitment and lack of county representation on the Board of Trustees, it behooves the County to explore partnerships with surrounding community colleges as well as approaching SUNY to determine the feasibility of creating a community college within the County.” Dennis Kennedy, executive director of public relations at HVCC, understands the hardships that Albany County is facing but says that the matter is beyond the school’s control. “It’s important to know that Hudson Valley does not determine the rate at which counties fund the college,” he says. “State Education law does—and has for decades. Albany County’s chargeback rate is based on a growing number of students choosing to enroll at Hudson Valley and a significant decrease in state aid over a period of time,” he says. Which means that with the economy crawling along at a snail’s pace, and enrollment at community colleges growing, that number is likely to keep increasing. ARTIN ROBINSON IS AN ALBANY resident who enrolled at HVCC right after high school. When Robinson was choosing a college, he considered where the school was located, what the tuition rates were, and the quality of education it offered. He accepted a full scholarship to HVCC and was admitted to the honors program. He will graduate this spring with an associate degree in liberal arts. Robinson is very happy with the education he received. “Classes were small. I was able to develop relationships with my professors and I made friends with people in my classes. It was a very personal experience,” he says. Robinson also is the editor-in-chief of HVCC’s student newspaper, The Hudsonian, an opportunity for which he is grateful. For Albany residents attending HVCC, commuting can be an issue; Robinson made it work, but it wasn’t easy. To get to school, he walks to the CDTA bus stop at Washington Avenue and Swan Street to pick up the No. 224 bus. From there it is about a 20-minute

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She coordinated schedules with her commute to the Troy campus, about 6.5 miles away. Robinson can catch the bus brother so that both of them could here on weekdays every half-hour from make it to their classes. “Last semester 6:19 AM until 6:14 PM. The line follows there were a couple of days that I had to a similar schedule back to Albany, but go in a couple of hours early, before my classes started. Still, I feel worse for kids after 6 PM, it runs only every hour. “I did take a night class once and it who take the bus everyday or who ask wasn’t the best experience,” he recalls. their parents to bring them in,” she says. The other option for Albany resi“If I didn’t get out of class on time I’d miss the bus and have to wait an hour dents looking to attend a community for the next one.” He also has missed college nearby can be found 20 miles classes when the buses weren’t running away in Schenectady. Shannon Kinney according to schedule. Calendar holi- enrolled at Schenectady County Comdays that the school doesn’t observe munity College in 2009 to fulfill some have also posed a problem; on those prerequisites for nursing school, and days, the lines follow a Sunday sched- considers herself lucky to have access to ule, making it even more difficult for a vehicle. Kinney lived in Albany at the time and had a used car to get to and Robinson to get to the campus on time. Calley Parks, an Albany resident from school. She took the New York since 2004, enrolled at HVCC in January State Thruway because she felt it was 2011 as a returning student. She origi- the easiest and fastest route, although nally started at Russell Sage College in she did have to pay a toll each way. It’s Troy, but left before completing her currently 30 cents from Albany to degree. After leaving school, she The value of an worked for seven years as a body education: SCCC piercer on Lark Street. She thought student Shannon about school, but became Kinney. immersed in her life in downtown Albany. “It was easier to ignore my returning back to school when I didn’t have daily exposure to it,” she says. She liked piercing at first, but one day decided that she wasn’t happy at her job. “I didn’t want to work retail for the rest of my life and was upset that I didn’t finish my education,” she says. She started looking at area schools that offered a technical theater program, her original concentration of study. Most of the schools that did were private colleges with highpriced tuition costs. She finally found a program at HVCC. “HVCC is Schenectady, but it adds up, as does the like a tenth of the tuition at Russell money spent to buy gas. At $4 per galSage,” Parks says. “When you look at the lon, an hour or so of daily commuting can be taxing for anyone, especially a education, it’s great for the money.” Parks recently was included in the student. Kinney also noticed that the 2012 edition of Who’s Who Among Stu- drive took a toll on her vehicle. “It’s disdents in American Universities and Col- heartening to me, I just got a new car in leges, a selection based on a cumulative July. My cars don’t last as long as they grade point average, community serv- did before the commute,” she says. When Kinney enrolled at SCCC, she ice, and future potential. “I performed beyond my expectations and surprised had already earned a bachelor’s degree myself,” she says. “It’s hard at age 17 or in biology from the University of 18 to know what you want to do and Albany, but that wasn’t her first experience in higher education. She started how to get it.” She excelled in academics her sec- out at the Albany College of Pharmacy ond time around; the real struggle was in 2000 but left in 2002. She took one getting to the campus. Parks doesn’t semester of classes at HVCC that year have a driver’s license, so she rode with before continuing to UAlbany and her brother, who also attends HVCC found that semester at community colfull-time. “It can be a nightmare some lege enlightening. “It was an opportunidays,” she says. “On a good day, the ty to slow down. I finally didn’t feel so commute on 787 is around 20 minutes totally overwhelmed by all the classes I from downtown. But during rush hour, had to take and I got to take classes that even if there’s no accident on the ramp interested me,” she says. to 90, and there usually is, traffic grinds Kinney found employment at GE to a dead halt.” and IBM with her bachelor’s, but was

hired as a contractor and found the situation less than secure, so she decided to use her science background to pursue a career in nursing. After her year at SCCC, she continued to Ellis School of Nursing. Two months into her first semester, Kinney was offered a full-time position at IBM. She decided to finish the nursing program anyway. “I’m pro-school, but the way I see it, with everything that’s changing, the job market is horrible. These schools are not that expensive and there’s so much you can do with these programs,” she says.

munities that wouldn’t have access to it otherwise. So, what about options for the people of Albany that don’t have the time or means to commute to Schenectady or Troy, or who work to support

Caccess to higher education to comOMMUNITY COLLEGES OFFER

families and find it hard to carve out time for the commute? HVCC offers satellite locations throughout the city of Albany where students can take courses, but in order to finish a degree, students eventually have to find their way to the Troy campus. Empire State College offers a nontraditional approach to continued education with “guided independent study and coursework onsite, online or a combination of both,” according to David Henahan, Director of Communications at SUNY Empire State College. Students take courses online but also have the option of meeting with faculty and other students in seminar-type settings. While it offers the flexibility needed for some adult learners, this formula isn’t going to be a fit for everyone. Harris Oberlander, chief executive officer of Trinity Alliance in Albany, is working on another possible solution. Trinity Alliance is a progressive social continued on page 12

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METROLAND MAY 3-9 2012

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