Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

..

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent,1 which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student success and on barriers students face in their pursuit of higher education. Most of the enrollment that has been recovered at community colleges is through an uptick in dual enrollment. As of fall 2022, enrollment declines at community colleges had slowed to 0.4 percent compared to the prior fall, driven entirely by the growth of dual enrolled high school students (+11.5 percent) and 18- to 20-year-old students (+1.4 percent).2

While this growth in dual enrollment is encouraging, college-going rates for high school graduates have steadily declined over the past decade. Even as high school graduation rates climbed by 7.6 percent since 2010, college-going rates declined by 5.4 percent.3 And while students who participate in dual enrollment are historically more likely to go on to college, the pandemic has shifted the focus of some young adults to full-time employment, family obligations, and alternatives to traditional postsecondary education. This shift makes it imperative for community colleges to keep dual enrolled students highly engaged if they intend to retain them.

Community College Dual Enrollment Gains Reverse Declining Enrollment

 External Threats to Keeping Your Dual Enrolled Students

Today’s prospects are considering a wider set of institutions at every stage of the funnel. For enrollment leaders, this means that students’ attention is increasingly divided. Data from EAB student surveys and partner institutions have shown a steady increase in the average number of applications per student from just over six to seven across the pandemic.4 Knowing that dual enrollment students are likely casting a wider net when considering their long-term college options means that early, targeted communications with these students is vital in order to successfully stand out among their other options.

In addition, more students may be open to nontraditional pathways to access postsecondary knowledge. A national survey conducted in 2022 suggests that the number of high school juniors and seniors planning to attend fully online colleges has more than doubled since before the pandemic, despite the fact that the majority of these colleges do not market to younger students.5

Compounding the lure of multiple education pathways are rising wages among young adults. Many students who may be considering attending community college are having to weigh their need to provide for themselves and their loved ones with their desire to attend college. And often, financial obligations take precedence over postsecondary education pursuits. Atlanta Federal Reserve’s Wage Growth Tracker6 shows that the 12-month moving average of median hourly wage growth stands at 3.8 percent overall. In 2022, this number jumps up to 10.5 percent for 16- to 24-year-olds,7 demonstrating that young adults are gaining access to better paying jobs, which can press pause on their college-going plans.

Internal Threats to Keeping Dual Enrolled Students

Even for students who haven’t opted out of college, getting through the enrollment process can be a challenge, and younger students have high expectations of rapid and tech-enabled processes. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, it took community college students an average of three weeks to register for courses after being admitted,8 significantly slowing student momentum. The swirl caused by redundant processes can result in unnecessary visits to campus and frustration,9 and cause community colleges to spend time course-correcting to get students on track.

EAB’s secret shopper research10 shows the largest barriers to community college enrollment are:

  • High school transcript requirements
  • Inaccessible staff
  • Delayed acceptance or ID delivery
  • No (or limited) nudges about next steps
  • No guidance on program choice
  • No guidance and limited website information regarding transfer options

Younger students, who have always had access to instant information, expect a rapid and transparent turnaround when interacting with colleges. Uncluttering the enrollment process and providing clear, concise, easy-to-understand calls to action will become even more paramount as higher numbers of young students explore their college options.

Organizational Confusion Limits Critical Dual Enrollment Matriculation Efforts

Finally, with changes in staffing levels both at high schools and community colleges, having enough hands to keep dual enrollment students moving forward has been a challenge. Student-facing professionals such as advisors and admissions staff have been difficult to retain, and this lack of bandwidth can create bottlenecks in engaging dual enrollment students through to continued enrollment.

How Can Community Colleges Innovate to Drive Dual Enrollment Engagement?

  • Offer Early Admission: Providing early admission to your college and prioritizing enrolling students before they graduate high school can help students to maintain their dual enrollment momentum. For example, Houston Community College has begun to close the gaps on retaining younger students through their PSOAR program, which provides early admission and helps students complete their enrollment before summer break.11
  • Engage Families: During the pandemic, students relied more on their families when making decisions about college, but first-generation students were 23 percent less likely than successive-generation students to name their families as a top resource.12 Knowing that community colleges service many first-generation students, it’s important to pull their families into the conversation early to make sure everyone’s questions are answered. Consider holding information sessions that are explicitly for dual enrolled students and their families and that outline your value proposition and specific enrollment steps. This will help to build trust and eliminate confusion.
  • Streamline Onboarding: In 2016, only 20 percent of students at Pikes Peak Community College were matriculating directly from high school, and 60 percent of applicants never enrolled.13 After discovering that 93 percent of non-enrolled applicants did not go on to enroll at another institution, college leadership decided to survey lost applicants. Student responses revealed numerous communication breakdowns, including long turnaround times, unclear messaging, and inflexible practices. By leveraging self-guidance technology, offering 1:1 advising after hours, and streamlining placement testing processes, advising appointments increased 7 percent in one year. And students who engaged with self-guidance technology were twice as likely to register for classes than those who did not.
  • Focus on Flexibility: As wages for young adults climb, the strategies that have historically attracted working adults are becoming more applicable to young adults. These are students who are interested in ROI,14 hybrid and online programs, short-term options, and workforce training. Using dual enrollment connections as a vehicle to showcase the variety of paths forward—not just a traditional campus-bound associate degree—can help keep the attention of students who are actively seeking the highest return on both their time and financial investment.
  • Leverage Summer Melt Strategies: Converting dual enrollment students doesn’t stop once they have applied to the college as degree-seeking students. Make sure each student service area is informed of its role in working with former dual enrollment students, what students’ specific enrollment milestones are, and which enrollment steps students may get to skip. This is critical in ensuring that students stay on track. After registration, these students still need college support, especially if they registered earlier in the spring, because they lose their existing dual enrollment infrastructure, such as guidance counselors and dedicated dual enrollment advisors.

 

[1] National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (2022). Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information.
[1] National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (2022). Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information.
3 EAB Analysis of American Community Survey Data. (2021). McKinsey and Co.
4 EAB. (2022). Gen Z’s Changing Journey to Enrollment.
5 Agostino, S. (2022, October 14). A Surge in Young Undergrads, Fully Online. Inside Higher Ed.
6 Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. (2022). Wage Growth Tracker.
7 Washington State Council of Presidents. (2022, February 16). Trends in Wage Growth and College Enrollment.
8 EAB. (2022, July 21). 3 ways to combat the community college enrollment decline.
9 EAB. (2017, March 3). How three simple community college onboarding changes turned into $70K at Danville Community College.
10 EAB (2017). The Four Biggest Onboarding Mistakes Community College Teams Make.
11 Houston Community College. (n.d.). Alief I.S.D. Partnership.
12 EAB. (2022). Gen Z’s Changing Journey to Enrollment.
13 EAB. (2020). 2020 Case Study Compendium.
14 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2022, September 28). Where Are the Students? New Research into College Enrollment Declines.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

..

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While leaders aspire to turn uncertainty into a clear vision for the future, we are often doing so during tumultuous times, such as during significant leadership and funding model changes or while our biggest competitors are simultaneously overhauling their strategies. We cannot allow our planning systems, which often follow fixed or arbitrary timelines or utilize unnecessarily bureaucratic processes, to inhibit our ability to pivot. As preeminent quality management leader W. Edwards Deming proclaimed, “a bad system will beat a good person every time.”1

The leadership challenge is to determine how our systems, such as shared governance, planning, or budgeting can be altered, leveraged, or even completely reconstructed to recognize our world as it is, not as we wish it to be. At Tulsa Community College, we created a supplementary budget process by which employees seek funding beyond their department’s operating budget any time of year. The process is simple:

  1. A link on our intranet is open to all employees.
  2. The requestor provides basic details such as one-time and annual costs and justification (tied to the strategic plan).
  3. The request is routed to the supervisor for support and then to the cabinet member. Either party may provide notes and approve or deny the submission.
  4. If the request is denied, it is returned to the employee(s) for edits and resubmission, as appropriate. If the submission is approved, all parties receive a confirmation email.
  5. The executive team discusses all submissions when determining annual foundation-funded projects.
  6. The President’s Office, Foundation, Finance department, and Grants Office regularly consider new submissions.

Whether or not funding is identified immediately, the benefit to our employees is that they know their request has been received by those who hold the purse strings. For administration, the benefits are both practical and strategic. The process gives us an efficient way to handle new requests and provides an existing mechanism to solicit needs for funding opportunities that may arise throughout the year (e.g., Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding). Additionally, it demonstrates that the submission has been vetted by the requestor’s supervisory chain. More importantly, this helps us make decisions that maximize financial responsibility and value to students, an important component in our strategic plan. We can identify themes of needs across departments and leverage funding opportunities by strategically packaging grant and donor applications. We can even identify talented, strategic thinkers and big ideas.

An unexpected advantage of the process has been making connections for internal resources, which means solving issues without the need for additional funding. For example, departments have asked for outsourced services, when the real need was delegation by a senior leader to a college department for prioritization. In other cases, we have recognized that certain functions could benefit from having their own, or an increased, budget. We have even seen examples of small requests, less than $100, that led us to consider whether multiple years of state funding cuts directed our employees to be such good stewards of scarce dollars that they had learned not to ask for anything. This last one should give any senior leader pause. Sometimes a little funding can go a long way.

Many colleges have mechanisms by which individuals request funding for specific projects. While leaders can always choose which funding requests to accept, restricting requests too much negates the desired outcome: We want our employees to get what they need to advance our mission of building success via education throughout the year.

All colleges are different, and all institutions may not need a process like that used by Tulsa Community College. However, it is important to remember that the middle managers at community colleges make things happen, so we should design systems to make things happen faster and more efficiently for them.

We want our employees to think strategically, to embrace change, and to acknowledge the changing landscape of higher education. We must do the same.

 

1 The Deming Institute. (n.d.). Quotes. quotes.deming.org/10091


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

..

SCAC staff member leads new student orientation

 

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet traditional, community college of tomorrow. During a League for Innovation “Community Colleges and Communities: Collective Workforce Development and Wraparound Services” project convening in June 2022, the SCAC team presented a concept that provided new insight to creatively connecting student support services with a college’s community, students, and staff. Hallmarks of this League project include college choice, continual innovation, and supporting institutions in meeting the needs of their students and communities. SCAC’s approach gained interest as a model for looking to cultural traditions to support student success. SCAC’s mission statement—upholding the power of Apache wisdom and knowledge—was used as the foundation for an innovative method of enhancing students’ sense of belonging in a postsecondary environment.

The SCAC mission is reflected in the title of the college’s new approach: Building a Home Together for Lifelong Learning. In this approach, the team conceived and visualized their efforts as building a traditional Apache home structure, called a gowa in the Apache language. They began by acknowledging their cultural teachings to create a stronger and more meaningful approach for students. In the development process, there was a lot of discussion about wanting Apache students to feel that the college is their own, an extension of their heritage that offers support as they venture toward their futures. By providing Apache-centric wraparound student support services, SCAC began to culturally share experiences with students and allow them to reflect on their own personal journeys, which led to the concept of sharing the college as a home.

 

Apache Philosophy, History, Culture, and Lifeways lecture series poster

By using a type of blueprint design as a guide to identifying different applications, events, and activities to be completed by SCAC staff, it became apparent that this new idea would be a success. The building of an Apache gowa can be conceptualized as weaving an upside-down basket; it is said that every pole in that weave meets at the top, in the middle, and represents a family member. The structure’s strength comes from the hands of the family members represented as they come together to support the home. The vision for SCAC is that each of the gowa’s poles represents a college resource that was created or improved upon to share student support services or enhance the student experience. For example,

  1. SCAC’s new and returning student orientation sessions were restructured around the idea of building a home.
  2. Student food pantries were expanded to three additional visible locations to make them more convenient and to help reduce any stigma around their use, thus reflecting the provision of nutrition to students as in a gowa.
  3. Items like student planners, wall calendars, and college-branded clothing introduced the home concept.
  4. Students were invited to learn to play Apache Cards with elders in the evenings.
  5. SCAC partnered with the San Carlos Wellness Center to host an Apache Philosophy, History, Culture, and Lifeways lecture series, which brought students, their families, elders, and other community members together for a traditional meal, lectures on culturally relevant topics, and Apache storytelling.

The college’s identification of new student opportunities as part of a culturally significant structure was a natural fit. As the many facets of building a home can be refined or be completely different for everyone, the finished product of a completed home marks the impact of the journey and effort. The experiences in building the home and in occupying the home when it’s constructed are what add to its value. The hope is that every year a family lives in its home and experiences more love in it; SCAC staff want the same for their students as they begin their educational journey at the college and are supported and strengthened by the SCAC gowa along the way. Through innovative thinking and strong cultural delivery, the programs and events at SCAC have transformed learning experiences into lifelong lessons that remain a major component of the Apache culture and way of life.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

..

Top Five Barriers for Students Considering College

(Source: EAB High School Counselor Survey, Fall 2021)

 

College Non-Consumers: More Familiar Than You Think

(Source: American Communities Survey Data, U.S. Census Bureau)

 

The Postsecondary Decision Journey: COVID-19 Effects on Students of Color

(Sources: Brookings Institute and YouthTruth)

Talent Shortages Force Shift From Cost-Containment to Asset Management

(Source: Current Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Pandemic Losses Largely in On-Site, Entry-Level Jobs

(Source: EDUCAUSE and CUPA-HR QuickPoll Results: The Misalignment of Preferences and Realities for Remote Work)

 

From Great Resignation to Great Sansdemic

(Sources: The Demographic Drought: Bridging the Gap in our Labor Force)


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) in everything from sprinkler systems to lecture delivery, it’s clear that the question for many instructors is no longer whether to use tech in the classroom—it’s how to use it well while also maintaining their authentic teaching style.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. And with limited resources available to help them navigate a myriad of edtech options, instructors often find technology to be more of a hindrance than a help. In my conversations with instructors, I’ve heard an increasingly common refrain over the past two years: “I feel like I don’t even teach any more, because all this tech is doing my job for me.”

If there’s one word to sum up this problem, it’s distance. Many faculty members find that technology puts more space between them and their students. It creates more disconnection. It puts up barriers that make it harder to engage authentically and empathetically. Considering that instructors’ main method of communicating outside of class is through an often-clunky interface that presents students as collections of assignments and grades rather than as thinking, feeling human beings, it’s hard not to see why the idea of technology in the classroom conjures more apathy than enthusiasm.

Is this the way it has to be? Is technology doomed to stand between educators and the students they serve? Or is it still possible to fulfill the promise of AI-enabled edtech tools as a way to help students engage and learn?

Solving this puzzle of education technology might start by reframing the question. Rather than thinking of edtech as replacing instructors, or creating distance between students, what if we think of it as a tool that educators can use to accomplish whatever goals they want for their classrooms? And how can they use that tool to close gaps and increase connection with students?

Consider the ways that a growing number of instructors are using AI in the classroom. Emerging AI tools that can evaluate students’ writing for not just grammar and spelling, but also the credibility of their sources and open-endedness of questions, aren’t replacing instructors. Rather, they’re serving as a resource to help students master fundamental skills and enable instructors to dig deeper into students’ thought processes.

For many instructors, giving feedback on fundamental skills like spelling and grammar takes so much time that there’s no room to engage with the underlying ideas themselves. It’s only gotten harder over the past two years, as students enter college after grappling with an unexpected stint in virtual high school—and far less opportunity for in-person interaction with teachers who can help them hone their writing skills. Imagine making it to college, starting a writing class, and only getting feedback about sentence construction. As I’ve learned from my discussions with educators over the years, many students in that situation lose motivation. They stop showing up to class. In some cases, they drop out entirely.

That’s the sort of problem that new approaches to AI are helping instructors to solve. Rather than spending their time on simple fixes like run-on sentences, instructors supported by AI have the freedom to go deeper and help students craft arguments, refine ideas, and build the fundamental skills that will help them succeed both in college and beyond. And that’s just one example. As artificially intelligent chatbots such as ChatGPT transform learning environments, platforms like Packback are building tools to not just detect AI-generated content, but actually use AI to help prevent plagiarism in the first place. If we’re using AI to help cultivate critical thinking and build students’ confidence, we’ll be addressing the challenge at its core, rather than just treating the symptoms.

As much as AI can do in the present day, it can’t provide the priceless aha moments that the best educators can create for their students. We know that transformative learning happens when students build relationships with passionate educators, but educators can’t cultivate passion in their students and spark those aha moments if they are burnt out spending their time correcting the basics. When AI works, it’s making those moments possible. It isn’t creating distance—it’s doing the opposite. It’s closing the gap between teacher and learner, and creating space for the sort of authentic human connection that is the foundation of meaningful learning experiences.

As today’s students navigate an education landscape still reeling from the pandemic, they need all the support they can get. Without that support, it’s ever more likely that they’ll misuse emerging tools like AI to get their work done fast. Of course, that means their instructors need support too. That’s where instructional AI has an opportunity to shine. It won’t replace teachers, and it never should. But we’re already seeing the ways that technology is changing the way that students learn, and we have to make sure those changes are for the better. If chosen and implemented thoughtfully, these emerging tools can help to solve some of the most fundamental challenges in higher education and enable more instructors to facilitate the authentic, substantive interactions that lead to persistence and success.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for wraparound services has not only decreased, but not fully recovered from the cuts made during the 2008 economic recession.1 There is evidence that investment in wraparound services can help increase retention and graduation rates for students who attend community colleges.2 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently reported a drop of roughly 1.4 million college students, or 9.4 percent, since the start of the pandemic, with community college students being the most affected.3 The report further noted that students 24 years of age or older, women, and Black first-year students were the most adversely affected. These populations are some of the most vulnerable and need resources that help promote overall well-being, retention, and matriculation.

Community colleges have been subject to a constant reduction in state support and dwindling enrollment. As a result, resources routinely available on campuses in the past have been eliminated. Notably, programs that support students (e.g., counseling centers) have been cut or reduced. Counseling and mental health services are critical supports, particularly for students from underrepresented populations. As students from these communities enroll in community colleges, they may face depression and anxiety and often do not know where to seek services to help mitigate these feelings.4

As we center the need for and value brought to campuses by counseling centers, we must also consider the challenges brought on by the pandemic. Specifically, students report experiencing more anxiety and stress because of COVID-19 and the downward economic trends that followed the global crisis. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 43,098 students reported areas most impacted by the pandemic as follows: mental health (72 percent), motivation/focus (68 percent), loneliness/isolation (67 percent), academics (66 percent), and missed experiences/opportunities (60 percent).5 With the added burden of adverse mental health outcomes and financial pressure, students from minoritized communities are choosing to forgo postsecondary schooling in search of other opportunities aimed at allowing them to, for example, meet their financial needs.

Academic and student support services help retain students; however, there is a need to document the effectiveness of these programs for continued funding/support.6 Community colleges can help students who need to adjust to the campus setting through mental health services that ease the anxiety and stress related to post-pandemic life. These services support the connection with resources that promote matriculation, degree completion, and overall holistic health and psychological well-being. Counseling and mental health services help students adjust to their new environment in ways that honor their intersecting identities, their families, and their communities of origin while holding space for the new adventure before them.

Assessing Services at Your Institution

There are several ways to engage students in counseling and mental health services. But before we start with solutions, let’s begin by asking three questions:

  1. Have counseling services been funded and prioritized at your institution?
  2. Do your students know where the services are located?
  3. How knowledgeable are your students about these services?

If mental health resources are available, these questions start the process of gathering information about whether existing supports are meeting the needs of students and if students know how to engage with the services in meaningful ways. In addition, responses to these questions constitute the beginning of an assessment of mental health and counseling services offered at an institution relative to the needs of its students. If mental health resources are unavailable, consider partnering with community agencies to connect students to the services they need.

As part of your college’s assessment, the following should also be undertaken:

  • Assess whether your mental health center’s hours of operation meet students’ needs.
  • Ensure that your institution’s mental health professionals reflect the various cultures of your student community and that the center is appropriately staffed with at least one mental health professional per 1,000-1,500 students.
  • Require a robust referral database if available staff cannot address medication management.
  • Institute a crisis response team that handles campus crises related to urgent care needs.
  • Ensure that counseling staff serve on students-of-concern committees led through the institution.
  • If your institution cannot provide these services in-house, seek community partnerships that allow students and faculty to receive services at discounted rates or provide space for third-party providers to hold on-site or telehealth sessions.

These suggestions can help ensure that students on your campus have adequate access to mental health services. The need for these services is more evident than ever. With innovative approaches, your college can provide counseling and mental health services that  promote student matriculation and academic performance by mitigating the adverse effects of mental health.7

 

1 Whitford. E. (2022, June 14). States Contributing More For Public Colleges — But Will It Last. Forbes.
2 Gravely, A. (2021, July 8). Help for Community College Students. Inside Higher Ed.
3 National Student Clearinghouse. (2022, May). Undergraduate Enrollment Falls 662,000 Students in Spring 2022 and 1.4 Million During the Pandemic.
4 Gravely, A. (2021, July 8). Help for Community College Students. Inside Higher Ed.
5 Penn State Student Affairs. (2021, February 2). COVID-19 Impact on College Student Mental Health. Center for Collegiate Mental Health COVID-19 Blog series, Part 1.
6 Hoyt, J. E. (2021, January 28). Student Connections: The Critical Role of Student Affairs and Academic Support Services in Retention Efforts. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.
7 LeViness, P., Bershad, C., Gorman, K., Braun, L, & Murray, T. (2018). The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey – Public Version 2018. Association for University and College Counselor Center Directors.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

2022-2023 TERRY O’BANION STUDENT TECHNOLOGY AWARDS

Student Developer Champion

Lisa Nam, Bergen Community College

Student Technology Champion

Elsie Bura, San Jacinto College District

EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE O’BANION PRIZE

Linda L. García

Executive Director, Center for Community College Student Engagement 

LEAGUE EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying exceptional teaching and leadership!

INNOVATION OF THE YEAR AWARDS

The 2021-2022 Innovation of the Year Awards celebrate innovations at 32 member institutions and honor the 197 individuals who designed, developed, and implemented these initiatives to improve and expand service to their students and communities. Congratulations!

Visit www.league.org/node/1429936 to access the League Awards Program, which includes Excellence Award and Innovation of the Year Award recipient names and congratulatory messages.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must evolve to better meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. Within a new learn-to-work era, there are three clear signals that require attention:

  • Learner attitudes and needs are evolving, emphasizing faster, flexible, affordable, and stackable experiences that improve their economic mobility.
  • Employer needs and behaviors have changed, emphasizing skills and competencies over who you know or where you went to school.
  • Institutions have not kept pace with a skills-based economy and are looking for more opportunities to redesign programming as new competitors change the landscape.

In May 2022, an ECMC Group multi-year study found that more than half of teens in the U.S. are open to something other than four-year colleges to meet their higher education needs.1 Nearly half believe they can achieve success with education attained in three years or less. Between the strong labor market and the rising cost of college, young people are choosing shorter, more affordable career-connected pathways. Adults are making similar decisions about higher education. A recent Strada survey found that two in five working-age learner-earners in the U.S. had completed a non-degree credential and believed it had helped them to achieve their goals.2

A New Model to Meet Changing Belief Systems

Over the past decade, Education Design Lab (the Lab) has been a leader in helping colleges and universities use human-centered design to create more equitable models from the learner perspective. The Lab worked with educational partners to better understand those accessing higher education and reframed the term “nontraditional students” to “new majority learners” based on enrollment numbers and population trends. It also became clear that college was never designed for the success of these new majority learners, and was often designed to keep them out, specifically those who are Black, Indigenous, or Latinx; working class; or living in poverty.

As we launched the Community College Growth Engine Fund in 2020, it was important to focus the program on those individuals who have been underserved and underrepresented in postsecondary education. The fund’s partner institutions took on the challenge to create micro-pathways that are affordable, flexible, relevant, visible, and portable. The goal is to support access to valued, high-quality credentials in a high-demand field leading to a job that earns individuals the local median wage or higher in less than a year.

Over the last two years, the fund’s partner colleges have created nearly 50 micro-pathways in information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and related industries with local and national employers. There are nearly 150 industry credentials within these micro-pathways, along with an emphasis on 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creative problem-solving, communication, and intercultural fluency. Micro-pathway learners have earned over 4,000 credentials so far.

The colleges designing micro-pathways are discovering that this work is in fact a gateway to further transformation efforts that address learner and employer needs. For example, Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson, Arizona, designed seven micro-pathways as part of the fund’s first cohort of colleges. Now PCC is taking further steps, such as adding multiple ways for learners to access courses, blending credit and noncredit learners, and supporting ongoing innovation through a revised institutional structure. It is the start of a new model.

“I believe our [current] model is on an unsustainable path,” said PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert. “We’ve had a decade or more of declining enrollments. Our relevancy is in question. . . . If something is unsustainable in the long run, it will end. And the corollary is if something is going to be a big deal in the future, it’s got to start sometime.”

The time is now, and the need is clear for community colleges to adopt new practices, structures, and policies to better serve new majority learners and a skills-based economy. Community colleges represent the best opportunity to drive economic mobility and economic development in communities across the country.

1 ECMC Group. (2022, May). Question The Quo: Gen Z Teens Want Shorter, More Affordable, Career-Connected Education Pathways.
2 Wimmer Schwarb, A. (2022, February 1). How Credentials Can Create Opportunity for More People. Strada Education Network.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From the Chair

The past few years have required community colleges to grapple with the effects of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval.…

Read More

Fueling Dual Enrollment Momentum to Combat Declining College-Going Rates

Since 2020, enrollment at community colleges has declined 5.4 percent, which has prompted institutions to reflect on practices that impact student…

Read More

Designing Our Colleges for Change: The Leadership Challenge of Processes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators recognized that higher education is operating in an increasingly complex and volatile world. While…

Read More

San Carlos Apache College’s New Traditional Vision of Enhancing Student Support Services

San Carlos Apache College (SCAC), one of the newest tribal colleges in the U.S., has become a major player in efforts to build an innovative, yet…

Read More

College-Going Population and Workforce Shifts

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More

Can AI Actually Bring Instructors and Students Closer Together?

In today’s community college classrooms, technology is everywhere you turn. As higher education institutions embrace the role of emerging…

Read More

Retention at the Intersection of Wellness

Higher education has been in upheaval for the last two years due to the pandemic. Broader funding for higher education has increased, but funding for…

Read More

SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Excellence

Congratulations to the 319 faculty, staff, and administrators from 64 member institutions who received 2022-2023 Excellence Awards for exemplifying…

Read More

A New Model: How Community Colleges Are Centering Learners and Their Skills

As we look back at how the pandemic has shifted higher education, the message moving forward is that the learning and upskilling experience must…

Read More


21st Century Skills: Two Decades Later

In 2000, the League published Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century, a report of a study designed to help community colleges define and clarify the knowledge, skills, and abilities students would need for success in the new millennium. Juxtaposing findings from that study against descriptions compiled from more recent publications about 21st century skills offers a view of how defining and clarifying these skills has changed, or not, in the last twenty years.

Both lists include certain skills deemed necessary for success in a work environment, variously called workplace, soft, interpersonal, or power skills. These include such skills as the ability to communicate effectively or to collaborate with colleagues, and are distinct from the specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities required for a particular job.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From The Chair

Welcome back to Innovatus, the magazine of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Community colleges have a long history of not only…

Read More

Supporting the Academic Enterprise: Entrepreneurial New Revenue Streams For Your College

The traditional higher education business model has more in common with a medieval monastery than a modern corporation, largely dependent upon state…

Read More

The Talent Crisis: Why Community Colleges Must Be the Cornerstone

The United States is at the front end of the greatest talent shortage in its history. The combination of unprecedented global competition, historic…

Read More

Thinking Like an Entrepreneur Fosters Innovation

Through my daily interactions with students and employees at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and with members of the community, I…

Read More

Accelerate Innovation at Your Community College

The need for innovation at community colleges is clear. Innovation ensures the long-term success of our institutions. It enables more effective…

Read More

Leading the Zeitgeist With Club Z

The word Zeitgeist represents the spirit of the times and the prevailing ideas and beliefs as society moves forward. As we look to the new decade and…

Read More

Thinking Differently About Teaching Entrepreneurship

Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset within our community colleges is part of a mission to better serve our students and communities.

Read More

Issues That Keep Community College CEOs Awake at Night

As part of its recent strategic planning process, the League for Innovation in the Community College Board of Directors brainstormed a list of…

Read More

Spotlight: Creating a Community College Culture of Health

Since 2012, the League for Innovation in the Community College has led its Community Colleges and Public Health Project with an overarching goal of…

Read More

21st Century Skills: Two Decades Later

In 2000, the League published Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century, a report of a study designed to help community colleges define and clarify the…

Read More


Spotlight: Creating a Community College Culture of Health

Since 2012, the League for Innovation in the Community College has led its Community Colleges and Public Health Project with an overarching goal of involving community colleges in education for public health. Throughout the project, the League has worked closely with the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health, initially convening a panel of experts to examine the needs, opportunities, and barriers that exist to the development of public health courses and programs in community colleges. 

Following the panel’s recommendations, the project’s second phase focused on developing prototype curricula for community college programs that could fulfill workforce needs and provide career ladders for graduates. The models were produced in consultation with Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association of County and City Health Officials, Society for Public Health Education, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, and Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs, and were vetted by the community college and public health communities.

In the third phase, the League recognized 14 innovative community colleges for developing or enhancing courses, certificate programs, and associate degree programs in public health with Riegelman Awards, sponsored by Richard and Linda Riegelman and Jones & Bartlett Learning and presented at the Innovations Conferences from 2016 to 2019.

The fourth and current phase of the project focuses on Creating a Community College Culture of Health, with an emphasis on increasing community college student awareness of career opportunities in public health. Colleges are encouraged to make connections between public health careers and existing certificate and degree programs, such as nursing, allied health, first responder, environmental studies, engineering, and HVAC. To support public health career awareness activities, the League awarded 21 small grants for events held in April 2019 during National Public Health Week (USA) or on the World Health Organization’s World Health Day. Thirty-seven additional grants were awarded to the following community colleges to support public health career awareness activities this spring.

2020 Public Health Grant Recipients

For more information about the League’s Community Colleges and Public Health Project and Creating a Community College Culture of Health, including resources, please visit http://www.league.org/ccph.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Letter From The Chair

Welcome back to Innovatus, the magazine of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Community colleges have a long history of not only…

Read More

Supporting the Academic Enterprise: Entrepreneurial New Revenue Streams For Your College

The traditional higher education business model has more in common with a medieval monastery than a modern corporation, largely dependent upon state…

Read More

The Talent Crisis: Why Community Colleges Must Be the Cornerstone

The United States is at the front end of the greatest talent shortage in its history. The combination of unprecedented global competition, historic…

Read More

Thinking Like an Entrepreneur Fosters Innovation

Through my daily interactions with students and employees at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and with members of the community, I…

Read More

Accelerate Innovation at Your Community College

The need for innovation at community colleges is clear. Innovation ensures the long-term success of our institutions. It enables more effective…

Read More

Leading the Zeitgeist With Club Z

The word Zeitgeist represents the spirit of the times and the prevailing ideas and beliefs as society moves forward. As we look to the new decade and…

Read More

Thinking Differently About Teaching Entrepreneurship

Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset within our community colleges is part of a mission to better serve our students and communities.

Read More

Issues That Keep Community College CEOs Awake at Night

As part of its recent strategic planning process, the League for Innovation in the Community College Board of Directors brainstormed a list of…

Read More

Spotlight: Creating a Community College Culture of Health

Since 2012, the League for Innovation in the Community College has led its Community Colleges and Public Health Project with an overarching goal of…

Read More

21st Century Skills: Two Decades Later

In 2000, the League published Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century, a report of a study designed to help community colleges define and clarify the…

Read More