4 experimental new models for community colleges

Community colleges are trying new recruitment strategies to reach potential students who have been previously untapped by traditional postsecondary pathways, Ashley Smith writes for Inside Higher Ed.

In California, the state community college system is building an online learning platform that officials hope will help them reach more adult learners.  The project is an expansion of two existing programs related to online learning. The chancellor of the system, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, says leaders also hope the new platform will help California recapture students who enroll in online programs at schools located in other states.

Pennsylvania is piloting a distance learning program centered on interactive video, says Duane Vicini, project executive for the newly established Rural Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania (RRC). "We have live professors who teach courses at any one of the locations where we have satellites and a hub. Students are watching them live and can interact with them—they're just not within the same classroom," he explains.

The goal of RRC is to expand access—and enrollment—in the northwest region of Pennsylvania. There's a cluster of nine counties in the area with no community colleges between them.

In Minnesota, the University of Minnesota of St. Thomas plans to open a two-year college on campus at its Twin Cities location, writes Catherine Morris for Diverse.  The school will resemble a community college in that it will grant associate degrees and be able to keep tuition low for students.

However, the school will be much more focused on helping its students transfer to four-year institutions after receiving an associate degree, says Alvin Abraham, the college's founding dean. "When we enroll a student, we enroll a student who is eager to complete a four-year degree," he says. "Not that other schools don’t, but that is our fundamental mission."

In Illinois, Loyola University Chicago has established a similar program called Arrupe College. The college serves 400 students, roughly 20% of whom are undocumented immigrants. The school graduated its first class of students in July 2017, Morris reports. In June, dean and executive director Stephen Katsouros estimated that 75% of students would graduate and shared that the first class had an 82% retention rate (Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 6/27; Morris, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 6/25).

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