Reaccreditation at Chatfield

This fall, Chatfield College will undergo a site visit and review in order to maintain our accreditation. Although the College has been regionally accredited with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1971, it must periodically renew its accreditation to address changes within higher education and to confirm our continued commitment to providing a high quality education. Our most recent reaccreditation was in 2011.

Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities demonstrate that their programs, course offerings, instructors, student services, and facilities, all meet accepted standards for quality within higher education. The process is made up of several steps that include a peer review, and an assurance argument. The assurance argument is a lengthy document that describes how the college meets standards for accreditation and offers evidence for on-going improvement and self-study. The peer review is made up of a team of educators and administrators from other colleges who compare what was written in the assurance argument with what takes place at the school. Peer reviewers will make a visit at the end of October this year to both the Over-the-Rhine and Brown County locations. They will talk to students, faculty, and staff, and observe classes and other activities throughout the day.

Although the criteria for accreditation have been recently revised, the accreditation process is nothing new. The first accrediting body was established in 1900. Initially, its purpose was to help colleges compare courses and identify which credits could be accepted for transfer. Accreditation still serves this function, allowing students to easily transfer credits between qualified institutions and complete their degree. As a college education became more desirable and accessible, the number of new schools continued to grow. While the role of higher education expanded, accrediting organizations became progressively concerned with setting common standards for quality. The increase of for-profit colleges and degree-mills in recent years underscores the need for common standards and an external review process in higher education. The degree a student earns needs to be a consistent and accurate reflection of the skills and knowledge they acquired in the course of their studies. By maintaining accreditation, colleges and universities make it possible for their students’ degrees to be taken seriously by employers, other institutions of higher learning, and the United States Department of Education (USDE).

The USDE relies on the decisions of independent non-profit accrediting commissions, like HLC, to determine which schools offer a high quality education. Only accredited schools are eligible to receive federal student aid funds in payment for student tuition. A student can qualify for Pell grants, or direct loans from the government, but they can only spend this money at schools that the government considers to be worth the expense. Accreditation then, is a process which not only gives value to the institution and the degrees they award, but also provides financial opportunities for students wishing to attend college.

As October approaches, you may be asked to participate in the accreditation process. If you work at or attend Chatfield, you may already be involved and not even know it! For instance, students and faculty are already familiar with course evaluations. These are one way in which the College engages in a continuous review of quality in individual course sections. Faculty also participates in surveys each term to identify strengths and innovations in teaching. Staff and even board members participate in meetings intended to review and evaluate curriculum and student programming. Right now, there is another opportunity to participate in the accreditation process. You can submit comments directly to the HLC through the Higher Learning Commission’s homepage. The information you offer can help HLC and Chatfield better understand how to serve your needs and the needs of our community.



Chatfield Admissions Counselors: Going Above and Beyond to Reach Those in Need

IMG_0568When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I am an admissions counselor at Chatfield College. Of course, the next question is usually: what do you do? The quick answer is that the admissions team talks to prospective students about the enrollment process, and helps them make decisions about college that meet their current and future needs. That description sounds simple, but our job is much more than making phone calls and setting appointments for campus tours.

When I started my job at Chatfield, I was already a volunteer with the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, a carry-over from my days working for a newspaper. The Work Readiness Initiative program in Clermont County has a mission to reach high school students to prepare them for the workplace. This came about because local businesses were becoming concerned about the lack of “soft skills” in the applicants they were interviewing for job positions.

One of the great things about being in admissions at Chatfield is the flexibility our team has in fulfilling our job requirements. When I was hired, I knew immediately that my volunteer role with the Chamber would be right in line with one of our team’s work obligations: visiting the local high schools and meeting the students, guidance counselors, and staff.  Building a good relationship with the high schools would be easier since I had met a lot of the College and Career Readiness counselors while volunteering.

The Work Readiness Initiative was developed to reach students with classroom presentations, in collaboration with the teacher, and consists of several weeks of facilitating a course in job and career readiness. Some high schools have a designated time, once a week, in which students go through the course with a group of volunteers from the business community. Each week, a different topic is introduced that expands on the prior week’s session. Topics include: Attitude, Diversity and Respect, Interviewing Skills, Resume Writing, Personal Hygiene and Appearance, Drug and Alcohol Awareness, and others.

I like to facilitate the Diversity and Respect piece as I have had the great fortune to have grown up in a rural area in Brown County, Ohio, and to have lived in several neighborhoods in Cincinnati over a 15 year span. Also, I feel that I can relate to this topic because we have a wonderfully diverse body of people who attend and work at Chatfield College. I feel very strongly that students in high school- who may have had limited experience with groups outside the area where they have grown up- can benefit from meeting others who have experienced a different way of life, and people of other cultures. All of the admissions counselors at Chatfield have different and unique backgrounds, which makes for an interesting collaboration.

Another way that I and my co-workers volunteer is through mentoring. The mentoring sessions are one-on-one with a student who has volunteered to meet with a mentor twice a month for the school year. The agreement can be renewed for consecutive years until the student graduates. During the mentoring sessions we talk about anything that is important to the student. This can include personal issues, grades, driving, ACT testing, jobs, family, friends and more. The point is to be available to the mentee and to be a good role model. I like to start by asking school related questions, then move on to other areas of interest. I always tell my mentee that I am not going to try to tell her what to do with her life, and that I will offer non-biased advice with no judgement. I equate it with being a sort of “aunt” role. I am not their parent, so they feel comfortable talking to me about various things, but I am an adult so I am looked at as having some authority on certain subjects.

Volunteering, of course, helps the admissions team build leads for prospective college students. I talk to my mentees and Work Readiness groups about the fact that I am an admissions counselor, I give them my business card, and I tell them to call me with any questions or concerns they have about college. Mostly, though, I let them know that I care about their future, no matter what they choose to do after high school. Not every student I talk to is interested in Chatfield, or college in general, but that’s okay. As long as we are having a positive conversation about the future, I feel like I have helped that student. The most important thing I tell the students I volunteer with is this: if it is your dream, your intent, your destiny, your goal…whatever you call it, to go to a college or university, then I will help in any way I can. Not because it’s my job, but because I want you to be happy. If you choose not to attend a college or university, and want advice about the work force, then, again, I will help you in any way I can. I want you to be happy. Everything else is secondary.

I am thankful that our admissions team has the opportunity to meet students on their level, and to hopefully help them with difficult decisions. Our job would not be as rewarding if we were only concentrating on how many enrollments we can get for a semester. We really have a personal investment in our students, and in the community, and that makes all the difference. Volunteering in the high schools, reaching out to young adults, and offering our time and commitment is the way to build strong leads for prospective students. Going above and beyond phone calls and campus tours is what makes us a successful admissions team.

-Lee Rose, St. Martin Admissions Counselor

What’s There to Do at Chatfield?

IMG_0470As a graduate of Chatfield and now a staff member,   I know first hand the struggle to find extra time to get involved.  However, at Chatfield, there are so many ways to participate and include your family.

During my time as a student at Chatfield, I joined student leadership, walked in the Brown County Fair Parade, the Reds Opening Day Parade and participated in many more fun activities. In 2014, I gave the speech during the scholarship luncheon—a lunch for all scholarship recipients and donors that allows the donors to meet with the students who received their scholarship, and the students to meet and personally thank the donor for their donation.

In April, students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher will take part in the PTK ceremony and for the students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher who are graduating in the spring will be inducted into the Julia Chatfield Honor Society.  On April 30th, we have our annual Car, Craft, and Quilt Show.   This event is open to the community, from 10:00-5:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to walk around campus and look at the classic cars, shop with local craft vendors, view the handmade quilts on display, and enjoy live music as well as delicious treats.

In May, the Intro to Theatre class will be hosting a Variety Show on May 7th at 7 p.m.  Graduates are finishing up last minute finals and are preparing for the Baccalaureate Ceremony on May 5, 2016, and Graduation on May 14, 2016.

Another event that will take place this summer is our Hustle for Hope 5k on July 23, 2016 at 9 a.m.  Along with the 5K Run/Walk, we will also have our 2nd Annual Health Fair

Students at Chatfield have many opportunities to get involved and stay in touch with their peers. Student Leadership is always looking for more students to join. If you are looking to get more involved on campus and gain valuable work experience, contact Financial Aid about becoming a student worker in one of the various departments on campus.  Students can also participate as tutors in many different areas through the Library & Learning Center.  The library also offers events like Library Teas, where speakers talk about various travelling experiences and guests enjoy baked goods. If you are an avid reader, you can join the Book Club at the library.

Chatfield encourages students to participate in these events and always encourages students to suggest their own ideas, too.

-Heather Daugherty, ’15

Meeting Students Where They Are

meeting studentsBy Bill Gates 

When I was applying to college, I wanted to go to one of the best schools. At the time, I thought of “the best,” as the colleges that were the most selective. I applied to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton—schools whose reputations are burnished as much by the huge numbers of applicants who are denied admission, as the privileged few who are let in.

But over the years I’ve learned that there are many other ways to measure what makes a school great.

Institutions like Harvard (where I ended up going) have an important role to play in higher education. They do amazing research (which is something I support, enthusiastically) and can have their pick of the top students from around the world.

But equally impressive to me are the universities that take on the students who haven’t had a great high school experience. The students who graduate with low GPAs and poor SAT scores and might have trouble getting accepted to college. These students, many of them first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds, know a college degree is the surest path to the middle class. But they are also the ones who are at the highest risk of dropping out.

Our foundation is always looking for universities that have learned how to give these students the support they need to graduate. They are not just opening the door to college for a new generation of students. They are also helping to redefine the future of higher education in the U.S.

Last month, I had the chance to sit down in Seattle with administrators from two outstanding institutions–Johnson C. Smith University and Delaware State University—who are experimenting with exciting new ways to serve these at-risk students.

“We take pride in the fact that we do not cherry-pick our students. You can come to us as you are,” Dr. Harry Williams, president of Delaware State University, located in Dover, Delaware, told me.

Encouraging more low-income and first-generation college students to get college degrees is critical—not just for the students themselves, but for the health of America’s economy. By 2025, two-thirds of all jobs in the US will require education beyond high school. At the current rate the US is producing college graduates, however, the country is expected to face a shortfall of 11 million skilled workers to fill those roles over the next 10 years.

The problem isn’t that not enough students want to go to college. More students are enrolling in higher education programs than ever before. The problem is that too many drop out before completing their degrees, especially students from low-income families. In fact, a student from a wealthy family in the U.S. is eight times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24 than a student from a low-income family.

I met one student, Earlee Corbin, from Johnson C. Smith University who is an example of that statistic. He went to college a decade ago on a baseball scholarship, but then dropped out after his freshman year to take care of his father, who was ill, and to work to help support his family. Now 29, he’s back in a night school program to finish his degree while still working full time. The hours are long, but the personal support from his university—from both his professors and other students—is making the difference, he told me.

“They treat us like family. They put us in a position to succeed and the only option we have is to succeed,” he said.

Giving at-risk students a shot to beat the odds is central to the missions of Johnson C. Smith and Delaware State Universities. That commitment is rooted in their histories. Both institutions are historically black universities, founded after the Civil War to provide African-Americans an opportunity for higher education. While the legal barriers that once blocked black students from attending other institutions are now removed, America’s historically black colleges and universities still play an outsized role in providing education to underprivileged students. More than 60 percent of the students they enroll come from low-income backgrounds or are the first in their family to attend college.

Among historically black colleges, Johnson C. Smith University and Delaware State University are two of the most innovative when it comes to recruiting at-risk students, keeping them in school, and giving them the support they need to graduate.

Johnson C. Smith University offers students who don’t meet the GPA or SAT requirements for regular admission the opportunity to apply for an intensive first-year program to help them be successful in college. In addition to looking at the grades and test scores of applicants, the school examines their non-cognitive and meta-cognitive skills—like their problem-solving abilities and perseverance—to determine if they have what it takes to get a degree. The school prides itself on seeing the potential in students other schools may not.

“We put them into a very rigorous program of study and we watch them get to that ‘Aha!” moment. That’s when we know we have them on the right track.” said Dr. Ronald Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Delaware State University created a personalized guidance program which provides first-year students with mentoring, tutoring, and other resources to help them navigate the often difficult transition to college life.

Both institutions collect and analyze huge amounts of data to track students throughout their college careers. If a student taking a psychology quiz gets a failing grade, it triggers an email or phone call from a counselor to find out what went wrong and how to get that student back on track.

During one point in our conversation, Dr. Williams and his staff shared a chart showing how many students were expected to drop out between their freshman and sophomore years. Using predictive analytics, they have been able to target students who are considered the most likely to drop out—based on SAT scores, financial background, and other factors—and give them the support they need before they encounter a problem.

“The data shows that if we can keep you in college after your first year you have a higher percentage chance of graduating,” Dr. Williams said.

Providing so much personal coaching to students can be expensive, placing increased pressure on already strained higher education budgets. Both schools have made difficult budget cuts, eliminating unpopular majors and thinning administration and staff to help support these programs.

Why not just let the students who can’t make it drop out? Delaware State University staff told me this surprising fact: It actually costs a university more—in lost tuition—to allow a student to drop out than it does to pay for the support needed to help retain that student.

If it makes more financial sense to retain a student than let them drop out, other colleges may soon have a lot to learn from Johnson C. Smith and Delaware State about how to help more students complete their degrees.

For now, both schools are still learning themselves. The graduation rate at Delaware State is 37%, and 42% at Johnson C. Smith. While those rates are up over previous years, and remain higher than other institutions serving underprivileged students, both schools are working hard to boost them further.

I look forward to hearing more about the progress these schools are making in the years ahead. What’s already clear is that their innovative efforts to give more students the opportunity to obtain a college degree have yielded impressive results. They’re not just transforming how colleges operate. They are transforming lives.

This was originally published at

Better Late Than Never- Starting the College Enrollment Process

SokoniAs a college admissions counselor and recruiter, I spend a lot of time speaking to high school students about the importance of going to college.  While many are convinced they will be enrolling into one of the biggest and best colleges and universities in America, most are unaware of the often demanding admission requirements necessary for getting into the school of their dreams.  Nevertheless, after spending 45 minutes speaking with them about the importance of college and how they must approach the enrollment process, many students have a better understanding of what they must do, and get started right away.  However, many procrastinate or wait until the last minute, missing important deadlines and ultimately missing their opportunity to enroll in the college of their dreams. These are what I call “late deciders.

These are what I call “late deciders”. For late deciders, and for prospective college students in general, open enrollment colleges like Chatfield College are great options.

Here’s why:

The Rolling Admissions Policy

Open enrollment colleges (OEC) offer both traditional and non-traditional students the opportunity to pursue a college education without many of the strict admission requirements of selective colleges and universities. In terms of application deadlines, open enrollment colleges use the “Rolling Admissions Policy”, which allows prospective students a larger time frame to apply for admission.  In some cases, a prospective student can apply for admission to an OEC up until a few weeks before the start of their intended entry term.  The admissions application at Chatfield College can be completed online or in person for FREE.

No minimum GPA requirement

While most four-year colleges and universities require a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average for acceptance into their institutions, open enrollment colleges do not have minimum GPA requirements.  Regardless of what your GPA is, you are still academically eligible for enrollment to an OEC.  Prospective students are automatically accepted into an open enrollment college upon submitting the admissions application, as long as the student has a high school diploma or GED.

No ACT or SAT requirement

Unlike selective colleges and universities, open enrollment colleges do not require students to take the American College Test (ACT) or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  Instead, students are required to complete a placement test such as the Accuplacer test.  This test does not determine a student’s eligibility for enrollment—it determines whether or not a student is ready to take college-level coursework in his/ her first semester, or if the student needs to take any remedial courses (non-credit courses that help students become more proficient in certain subjects like math or English).

The transfer option

Most open enrollment colleges offer only two-year associate degrees.  Think of these colleges as a place where students can complete their freshman and sophomore years before going on to complete their junior and senior year at a four-year college or university of their choice.  At two-year open enrollment colleges, students have the opportunity to raise their GPA and then transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor’s degree.  Students can stay the entire two years and earn an associate degree before transferring, or they can transfer immediately following the semester they achieved a higher GPA.  A student must have at least a 2.0 GPA (this may be higher depending on the college accepting the transfer) in order to transfer.  The OEC option can also be viewed as a solution to those who are disappointed with their ACT or SAT test scores as two-year colleges and universities do not require transfer students to submit the ACT or the SAT.

There is a myriad of college options from which prospective students can choose.  Finding the right college or university that accommodates your needs should be of paramount importance when deciding where to study.  As a general rule, it is always best for prospective college students to explore their options as early as sophomore year and start to narrow those down as they approach their senior years.  The earlier you start, the better things will turn out.  However, for late deciders, time is of the essence.  At this point, many of the application deadlines have already passed.  For example, the University of Cincinnati’s application deadline for the fall of 2016 was March 1.  Now is the time for you to consider enrolling at an open enrollment college like Cincinnati State, Southern State, or Chatfield College.

Chatfield College is currently accepting applications for students interested in enrolling for the 2016 summer and fall semesters.  The summer semester will begin on Monday, June 6th and the fall semester begins on Monday, August 22nd .  Click here to submit an online application today.

-Sokoni Hughes, Admission Counselor at the OTR Campus

Don’t You Want Free Money?

Find_Scholarship_MoneyStep one: Fill out the FASFA, and fill out sooner rather than later… I cannot emphasis this enough!  Many students miss out on grants and scholarships because they fill out the FASFA too late.  Even if you are a high income family, many scholarship decisions now require a completed FASFA. Also, many students qualify for a subsidized student loan.  That means the government pays the interest for you while you are in school.  If you don’t think that is free money, that can be a savings of up to $6000.00 by the time it is repaid.

Step two: Fill out your FASFA every year! The most important year is a student’s senior year in high school.  A study from “Nerd Scholar” found the nearly $2.9 billion of federal grant money was left unclaimed!  Thousands of high school seniors eligible for federal Pell Grants (which don’t have be paid back) neglected to complete the FAFSA  last academic year.  Many students don’t understand their families’ finances or don’t realize that an additional family member returning to school completely changes their financial aid prospects.  You must fill it out every year you are in college, or you could be forfeiting up to $9,000.00 per year in federal and state grant money.

Step three: Apply for scholarships, and lots of them!  Millions, yes millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed every year.  About one in ten students are receiving a scholarship that helps pay their college expenses.  The US Department of Education reports that those students forfeit just under $3000.00 per year. The problem is, way more than 1 in 10 students are eligible for scholarships.   Students often don’t apply or don’t apply on time. It’s is never too early to start applying.  Check with your high school guidance counselor, they have scholarship opportunities available from local organizations.  The early bird gets the worm, and the cash!

Some tips:

Attend a FASFA completion event in your community.  If none are available,  go to a local college and ask for help.  At Chatfield, we help lots of students fill out the FASFA and sometimes they end up going to other schools.  Colleges who say they care about your best interest….should actually care about your best interest.

Make sure you start your search as a junior, as some scholarships require an application as a junior.

Use scholarship completion sites like and  with caution.  These sites do a lot of the calculations and heavy lifting for you so that you are only applying for scholarships that you could be eligible for and this is an easy way to apply for a lot of scholarships at the same time.  The issue comes after you apply, as some of the less reputable sites sell your information to for-profit colleges so that they can try to recruit you.

Make sure you or your child write two really good essays that they can use for multiple applications.  A quick scan of the different applications will let you identify themes to write about.  Make sure you use spell check and have them proofed multiple times.  A generation of Twitter and Face book has all but ruined the formal writing skills of many students.

Make a list of accomplishments to use across all applications.

Search your local paper’s website for “scholarship awarded” announcements.  This will allow you to compile a list of local businesses and organizations that financially support students from your community.  This is an easy way to apply money from sources you all already familiar with.

Some schools like Chatfield use a unified application process.  Meaning you can apply for 27 scholarships with one application. Start with these.

Parents, please check with your employers for scholarship or tuition reimbursement programs for your child.

Build a collection of recommendation letters.  People who may think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread may be terrible at writing recommendation letters.  Please gather several.  I have met several students who had letters based on categories, so the letters matched the scholarship they were applying for.

Make note of whether or not scholarship opportunities are renewable—can you keep it for year 2, 3, and 4?  If so, they normally have a performance requirement, and it is your responsibility to know that requirement. For example, you may have to maintain a certain GPA in order to receive the scholarship  in the upcoming  years.  If not, look for other opportunities to replace that scholarship so you don’t have a shortfall in year 2.

If you are late to the game, don’t give up.  Search for colleges (especially open enrollment colleges) for later deadlines.  At Chatfield, students have until mid April to apply for fall scholarships, which is much later than many highly selective schools.

Good Luck and get to work!

If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or email me at the college.


John Penrose

Vice President of Enrollment Management, Chatfield College

513-875-3344 ext 138

Is This Worth It?

IMG_1112 Zach DowningThere are a lot of people who speed through life, instead of taking it one step at a time. So many people get caught up in the hustle of everyday living without taking a step back to enjoy the little things. For example: family moments, personal achievements, laughing, loving, spending quality time, and living each day as we go. Life is a journey and should be lived that way, not as a race. Sometimes life shows and teaches us how strong we actually are, as well as what we are made of. In my adolescence, I learned a life lesson that would stick with me for a lifetime.

My adolescence was a challenging time. From second to eighth grade, I was a victim of bullying. For those six years, I literally hated going to school – hated it so much that I would fake being sick just so I did not have to go to school that day. As each school year passed, I fell more and more into a deep depression, keeping my feelings to myself. I constantly asked myself, “is this worth it, is this worth being mentally and physically abused?” I never told anyone what was going on out of fear that this would infuriate the bullies even more and make my life much worse. I kept telling myself that it would be over soon and that they would leave me alone. Six years later, that finally happened. Over the summer before my freshman year, I grew three inches and lost forty pounds. When school started back, those same people who had picked on me for so long greeted me with handshakes and humor. I was confused as to what was going on. I asked myself, “Do they understand the pain they have caused me for these last six years?” I had forgiven those individuals, but I had not forgotten all the times I was pushed down, spit on, punched for no reason, laughed at, or was picked last in gym class and recess. While I carried that hurt inside of me, I did not realize that the hurt I experienced would help develop me into the person I am today.

Through that experience in my life, I realized how strong I really was. The events that happened to me may be surprising to others, but they inspired me. They inspired me to not only be all I can be in everyday life, but to help anyone in time of need no matter what they may be going through. I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to shine a light toward someone in their darkest of days, to let them know they are never alone. I have chosen a career path that will indeed live up to the promise I made to myself. These days I am always on the go. I am an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), a firefighter, a full time student (awaiting the nursing program at Southern State), and also a full time State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). I sometimes lose sleep, become irritable, pull extra-long hours working and studying, but that is a side point. When you are able to impact someone’s life it is definitely worth all of the long hours and sleepless nights that come with it.

We all have had our hardships in life- some more than others- but there are always learning experiences, not only in difficult times, but in the good times as well. There is not a day that goes by that you shouldn’t bless someone you have passed in the hallways of school, of work, on the street, or at the grocery store, with just a simple smile. We live in a world today where people would rather walk by an individual in need, or point and laugh at someone, instead of lending a hand or an ear to listen. No matter how hard life seems at the moment, the hard work and hardships you have endured will pay off when the time is right.

I will end with this: life is a gift, not a privilege. As an EMT I have seen some horrible things but I have also seen amazing events as well. I have seen young lives taken too soon and it has really impacted my life, not only because they were taken so early, but because of the pain I see on their families’ faces. I strive every day to better myself, either working hard to get good grades in school, going the extra mile at work to help someone, or out in this frigid weather without sleep, helping someone who called 9-1-1. We cannot control the past, it is done and over with, but we can use the past to inspire our future.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. People come and go in and out of our lives and we learn something every day from them. Life is a journey, not a race. Take a step back and look around you, go talk to someone who looks like they are having a bad day. Not because you feel sorry for him or her, but out of compassion and the desire to be a friend. Lend a helping hand to a fellow co-worker, student, friend, or even a stranger. The smallest act of kindness can change an individual’s life. Take time out of your busy day or week and spend it with friends and family. We were never promised tomorrow and that, I can tell you from experience, is true. So as you are sitting there asking yourself, “is this worth it?” realize, ultimately you are in control of your destiny, and only YOU can make that decision. The decisions we make in life sometimes have consequences that stay with us for a long time. Stay safe, stick it out, and enjoy the journey of your life. My big dreams started at Chatfield and I will always be grateful for the memories shared there. Good luck to you and your future endeavors.

Best Wishes,
Zach Downing, Class of ’15

The Importance of Black History Month

BHM“Those who have no record of what their forebearers have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history”
-Carter G. Woodson

    In the year 1619, twenty Africans stepped off a Dutch ship in Jamestown, Virginia. That is when African American history began in the United States of America, and since then, African Americans have made a significant impact on our nation’s history. The fact that the bitterness and degradation of slavery was the only African American history being taught or disseminated was of great concern to Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Known as the ‘Father of Black History’, he believed Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs of our country. He strongly believed that history—which others have tried diligently to erase—is a firm foundation for young Black Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.  (NAACP, para. 1)

In the summer of 1915, Dr. Woodson was in Chicago to participate in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the emancipation, sponsored by the state of Illinois. (Scott, 1/31/16) Inspired by the three-week celebration before leaving town, Woodson decided to form an organization to promote the scientific study of Black life and history. On September 9, Woodson met at the Wabash YMCA with A.L. Jackson and three others and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. (Scott, 1/31/16) Dr. Woodson pushed for the celebration of African history with the intention that Blacks would know, understand, and be proud of their history. His work resulted in the celebration of Negro History Week. In time, this became Black History Week, and later in 1976, Black History Month.

Negro History Week was first celebrated in February 1926. Contrary to popular belief, February was not given to Blacks because it was the coldest or shortest month.  “Dr. Woodson chose February for reasons of traditions and reform.  It is commonly said that Woodson selected February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping Black History, namely Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th, respectfully. More importantly, he chose them for reasons of tradition. Since Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, the Black community, along with other Republicans had been celebrating the fallen President’s birthday. And in the late 1890’s, Black communities across the country had been celebrating Douglas’s.  Woodson built Negro History Week around traditional days of commemorating the Black past. In doing so, he increased his chance for success.” (Scott, 2/31/16)

Initially, Dr. Woodson hoped that the dissemination of information on the achievements and accomplishments of Blacks would give young Blacks and other older Blacks a sense of pride for their people. He also hoped to get rid of the negative stereotypes of the majority community. His books and papers celebrated the achievements of great African Americans, but he also wanted others of the majority community to know and understand what African Americans had done to enrich and contribute to this country.

While it is good for Blacks to know their history, it is also good for others to know and understand this history. It is good for all people to know about Robert Smalls, a Black man, who during the civil war, commandeered a Confederate ship and sailed himself and 17 others to freedom. We should all know about Dr. Charles Drew and his work with the blood bank. We should all know about Garret Morgan with his gas masks used in World War I and his traffic light. Every little girl should know about Mae Jemison and her space ride. There are other scientists, inventors, writers, doctors and many others who have made contributions in every field.

This study is good for some who believed that the enslaved Africans were happy, docile, and offered no resistance; the study of history will show that there were between 250 and 300 attempted slave rebellions. Most know about Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, and Gabriel Prosser, but there were hundreds more, including the Stono Rebellion in 1739. Although these slaves were very harshly punished and most often killed, others kept attempting to escape to freedom. Another way of resisting was to run away. Slaves were constantly looking for an opportunity to run. The Underground Railway was a perfect example of this. Other resistance examples were the daily resistance of breaking tools, sabotaging equipment, or tampering with food and the water supply.

The study and celebration of African American history is important to African Americans and also to Caucasians because it is an integral part of American History. Dr. Woodson hoped that in time we would not need a Black History Month because Black History would be taught in classes as American History. Until that happens, we still need to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month and throughout the year.

Ohio’s College Credit Plus (CCP) Program

CCP-53To CCP or not to CCP? This is the question. At least one time a day, a parent, teacher or colleague asks me if high school students should participate in CCP.  It is true that CCP is an amazing opportunity and a great chance for students to earn college credit at little to no cost, but there are also some risks.   Below is a checklist to help students and their families make the best decision possible.

The Pros

  • College Credits Plus provides tuition and books free…yes, that is right! You can earn thousands of dollars in college credits for free.  This is not a typo.  If you don’t understand the basics of how CCP works, I strongly encourage you to visit
  • Students can earn up to 30 credit hours per year. (the equivalent of most full time college students).
  • Student can now take classes in the summer to get a jumpstart on the school year.
  • Students can earn up to 120 total hours.
  • A typical college course (3 credit hours) is worth 5 Carnegie units in high school, or in plain English, a one semester class in college is worth a yearlong class in high school. For example, if you take English 101 in the fall and English 102 in the spring of that year, College English is worth two years of high school English.
  • High schools can not prohibit CCP students from participating in extracurricular activities or sports. They are also not permitted to have any policies that discourage participation in CCP.
  • Colleges will provide an advisor to you, and you will be treated like any other college student.
  • Many students have graduated from high school and earned an Associate Degree at the same time.
  • If your high school offers advanced placement or honors courses that you can earn above a 4.0 grade point average, then they must also grant the same advanced standing grade point scale to a college class taken through CCP.
  • Students who participate in CCP usually graduate from college at younger age and with less debt, when they enter the work force as a professional at a younger age. In some cases, students finish both a Bachelor’s and Master degree in the four years after high school.


The Pros (specific to Chatfield)

  • Our small class sizes are very small, with most classes averaging 5 to 15 students.
  • Chatfield has articulation agreements with more than 30 of the best colleges and universities in our state and beyond. This means the classes you take transfer to schools like Miami, Xavier, NKU, Thomas More, Mount St. Joseph and more.  Not only do your credits transfer, they count for the credit you need—not just as an elective.
  • We have always had a dedicated advisor for CCP students.
  • Tutoring, writing labs and online tutoring are all provided for free.
  • Most local high schools have a written CCP agreement with Chatfield, making the transition as easy as possible.
  • Chatfield College use block scheduling; meaning classes meet only one time per week for two and a half hours. This makes it convenient for students who want to continue taking some of their classes at their home high school or students who want to go to college full time, but be to participate in athletics or extracurricular activities like band, choir or clubs.
  • Block scheduling often save students in both travel time and expense, as a class only meets once per week instead three times a week, like many colleges.
  • Chatfield College provides the books for CCP students, which makes Chatfield much less expensive for home schoolers who must buy their books at other institutions. It also lessens the cost to local school districts.
  • Chatfield is faith-based and nonprofit. We are able to put the needs of students ahead of fiscal concerns, and our values are reflective of the students and families of Southwestern Ohio

The Cons

  • Just because a student is academically ready to take college classes does not mean they are mature enough to handle the rigors of a college class.
  • It can be tough to juggle a schedule at both high school and college.
  • The time allowed to drop a class without penalty is short. At most schools, it is only two weeks.
  • Poor college grades often do not transfer. A grade of D rarely transfers.
  • College classes require several hours of work and study outside of class. A student needs to be disciplined enough to make time in their busy schedules for reading, studying and completing assignments.
  • College and high school schedules often do not match, meaning you may start class before your high school starts, and often end before your high school schedule ends.
  • College classes cover material that, in some cases, would be more mature than material covered in high school classes.
  • Online classes sound tempting, but the completion and pass rate for online classes is much worse than classes that meet in person. A student must be very disciplined to do well in an online class.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to communicate any issues they have as soon as possible, to both their advisor and their high school guidance counselor. Rarely do the issues create a problem that cannot be fixed, unless it is not communicated in a timely manner.
  • You are responsible for the tuition for a class you fail unless you qualify for free or reduced lunch.
  • You must declare your intent to participate in writing to your principal by April 1. You can declare intent but not participate without penalty.

I hope this list is helpful to you in the decision-making process.  CCP is a great option for most the students we meet with, but please take the time to understand everything that is required to be successful.  The best way to find out if CCP is right for you is to use this check list and then go to a campus for a visit.  If you would like to visit Chatfield College and see all the great things we have to offer CCP students, please go to and schedule a time to come to in.  If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at or call 513-875-3344 ext 138.

From Penn to Columbia to Smith: The Value of Networking

M Smith headshotNo university exists on an island. Our beloved Chatfield, for example, is part of the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities. This has several benefits, for all sides, as Chatfield students are allowed to take coursework at several fine institutions in the Greater Cincinnati area, and other students (such as those from the Athenaeum) are allowed to transfer their coursework to Chatfield as they pursue an Associate degree.

This doesn’t change once you leave home and move on from Chatfield. Penn, for example, is a part of the Quaker Consortium, which allows students to take courses at some of the finest universities that Philadelphia has to offer. By doing this, students are able to pick up courses that they normally would not be able to take at Penn, accelerating their graduation date, while giving them an experience in higher education outside of our ivory towers.

Another crucial aspect of this lies in networking. While I study at Penn (and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world), I consider myself lucky to have friends at other top tier universities, such as Columbia and Smith. Not only does this provide me with an opportunity to expand on the resources I use to succeed as a student, it also gives me a chance to spend time working with similar minds, who have similar goals and interests. I have friends that major in fields as diverse as computer science at Columbia, to government and education at Smith.

Networking is key in an ever-changing job market. The skills and demands of employers today are complex and challenging, and so the student must also be willing to work through complex issues while challenging themselves. One of the great benefits of Chatfield is, despite their small size, there are several opportunities to network with fellow students, professors, and key community figures, giving students a unique opportunity to turn connections into future opportunities. As we settle into the doldrums of the middle of spring semester, I encourage my fellow Chatfield students and alumni to reach out and use the resources provided from your network at Chatfield to expand your opportunities, and prepare for the next step. After all, I’d love to see someone from Chatfield join me in Philadelphia. To Chatfield!

-M Earl Smith, AA ‘15