This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. Click here to subscribe.
Does enrollment keep you up at night?
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Scott Ralls visited Wake Tech last week for the first time since he was named president… Enrollment is keeping GTCC president Randy Parker up at night… President Peter Hans is calling for higher faculty pay as part of the legislative agenda… and Dr. Bill Carver is retiring as the head of Nash Community College.
myFutureNC will announce a call to action for North Carolina next week and a set of recommendations for the state (for more on the myFutureNC Commission, read here). The commission will announce a statewide educational attainment goal and a set of recommendations for how we get there.
One key will be combating summer melt (students who stated an intention to attend postsecondary and then do not step foot on a campus come August) and other areas where students stop out on the road to attaining a postsecondary degree or high-quality credential. Enrollment (and completion!) across both curriculum and continuing education courses will play a role. Look for our coverage of the myFutureNC announcement next week on February 20.
Last week, we visited Guilford Technical Community College to tour their aviation program and Center for Advanced Manufacturing and to hear more about their efforts to combat declining enrollment. Look for a piece on our visit soon, but in the meantime check out my colleague Yasmin’s conversation with Dr. Randy Parker where he explains what keeps him up at night. We have an upcoming series focused on enrollment, and we look forward to expanding the conversation.
Another element of increasing educational attainment in North Carolina will be increasing the number of adults who elect to upskill. Jennie Tolar’s story from Lenoir Community College is a perfect example of this kind of story. She dropped out of high school, earned a GED later in life, and is now on track to transfer to ECU after a successful stint at Lenoir Community College.
As always, let us know how we are doing. Send me story ideas and share your thoughts on our work to date, or anything at all, by just replying directly to this email!
Scott Ralls visited Wake Tech for the first time since being named its next president and was “immediately struck by the scale of the opportunity before him,” as my colleague Rupen reports in this piece. Check out the piece for more, including this quote from Ralls, “A very cool thing about community colleges, and I think that’s here at Wake Tech, is we make stuff. We do stuff, you know, and so when you’re walking around a place like this you feel that [spirit of], ‘Let’s do it. Let’s create it.’”
Some K-12 school districts are seeking an increase in calendar flexibility as part of the legislative session. One district in particular mentioned a desire to align with the community college calendar to benefit their students. For the most recent update on the legislature, check out Alex Granados’ latest column.
President Randy Parker spoke to enrollment when Yasmin asked him what keeps him up at night: “One of the things that has been keeping me up at night is that we have been losing our college credit enrollment classes for the last six years… So … how do you plan for new things? … How do you keep growing? And how do you sell that? … What I’ve been selling to our board members, our elected officials is that the college has to have the long view. We have to have a long vision.”
Check out these economic impact numbers: “‘I don’t know of another field that you can come out of with a year [of school] and within five years make $100,000,’ Long said. ‘I have technicians making $170,000. I have some technicians making $80,000. The ones that want to work 60 to 70 hours [a week] can make six figures no problem.’”
Jennie Tolar shares her story of returning to school, which was a decision ultimately inspired by her daughter.
What we’re reading
Nash Community College President Dr. Bill Carver has announced his retirement effective July 1, 2019. Stay tuned for coverage of the presidential search and transition.
President Peter Hans visited South Piedmont Community College recently. During the visit, he pledged to lobby for more faculty pay and a higher investment in workforce development. Hans told the Union County Weekly, “Our faculty members, and it seems especially so here, are so dedicated to the mission. I want to reward you for the life-changing work that you do.”
I couldn’t help but think of a conversation I had with Richmond Community College President Dale McInnis recently who told me part of the ingredient for success for a rural school is matching course offerings to actual jobs in the area when I read this passage: “It’s a problem contributing to a widening skills gap in rural communities across the country: Not only are rural high school graduates less likely than their urban and suburban counterparts to go to college; higher education institutions in many of these places aren’t training them to fill the jobs that are their regions’ lifeblood.”
The Hechinger Report explores the answer to the following big question: “Not knowing what tasks will be automated or what future jobs will look like, how do schools train for a workplace that does not yet exist?” After you read the piece, I would be curious to know what you think.
The People’s Session
The People’s Session will allow you to weigh in on education issues and ideas, add your own ideas, and surface the issues you care about most for 2019. Then, we will publish your top priorities and share them with leaders across the state.
We want to hear your story
We need your voice to tell the stories of our state’s 58 community colleges. We are now accepting first-person perspectives for EdNC.org. We want to know your stories, ideas, and vision for our community colleges. To learn more about submitting an article, click here. If you respond to this email, I am happy to help you think about how to frame your perspective and story.
EducationNC (EdNC.org) believes a more informed, connected, and engaged North Carolina is a better North Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us in the conversation around our students, our state, and our future. If you have any questions about our mission and vision, feel free to email me.
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