Rural Community College Program Aims to Close Equity Gaps
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
An initiative based at North Carolina State University aims to help the state's rural-serving community colleges close equity gaps and strengthen student outcomes.
Community college enrollment is down nationwide, but North Carolina is so far resisting the trend, with a slight increase in total student head count this year.
Audrey Jaeger, executive director of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research and professor at NC State University, said the Rural College Leaders Program is designed to help community colleges remove systemic barriers and boost completion rates, specifically among low-income and students of color in rural communities.
"We identified a cohort of 10 rural community college leaders," Jaeger explained. "Who were willing to look at data, who were willing to engage with us over the next two and a half to three years."
According to a report released last month by the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges, more than half a million credit and noncredit seeking students were enrolled in a community college between 2019 and 2021, supporting more than 300,000 jobs and contributing more than $19 billion to the state's economy. The State Board of Community Colleges plans to meet next week.
Jaeger noted participating institutions will closely track a series of metrics.
"How are new students doing in English and math classes? How many are retained past the first semester? How many continue past the second semester?" Jaeger outlined.
Community colleges primarily serve students of color, low-income, adult, first-generation and single-parent students. Jaeger pointed out dips in enrollment mean individuals are less likely to return to school to obtain a degree or certification, which could lead to a better job.
"So, disproportionately they serve more of those students," Jaeger remarked. "And when enroll numbers decline, disproportionately more of those students are not enrolled in college."
According to the state board, the number of students enrolled in community college jumped slightly between 2020 and 2021, but overall is still down by 13% from before the pandemic.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
Boston's 'Mass and Cass' area, with its large homeless population and open-air drug market, remains a trouble spot for city officials, but staff at …
Maryland's Juvenile Restoration Act has been in effect for more than a year now and its impact has people talking about additional reforms. The act …
Local candidates that signed onto a no-corporate-money pledge made midterm election gains in Charleston. Katie Lauer, co-chair of West Virginia …
Health and Wellness
A new statewide initiative aims to help connect domestic-violence survivors with medical providers, with a focus on treating traumatic brain injury…
A successful program that helps low-income households weatherize homes and lower energy bills is setting its sights on improving the health outcomes o…
The Arizona New Parent Guide is a resource that is intended to help new parents meet the challenges of having a baby and support their baby's health …
This story is based on original reporting by Elizabeth McGowan for Energy News Network, and is part of the Solutions Journalism Network-Public News …
In just two months, it should be easier for providers of children's services in Pennsylvania's child-welfare and foster-care system to get the …