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Awake58: The early college that didn’t close and the college dropout scandal

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. Click here to subscribe

The early college that didn’t close and the college dropout scandal

Welcome back to Awake58! If you were forwarded this email, be sure to subscribe by clicking here.

The Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Early College High School didn’t close after all… The Chronicle of Higher Ed explores the crisis of college dropouts (40%!)… Six community colleges from North Carolina were named to top 10 in the country… The 74 looks at guidance counseling and the impacts on community colleges…

Alex Granados explores the story of the Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Early College High School this week. You might recall that the Carteret County Board of Education voted to close MaST during the heat of the negotiations around the funding formula for early colleges. The school board has since restored the school. Alex sums up the situation by writing, “This whole incident highlights the danger not just of what legislators do, but also of what they threaten to do.”

For those who followed along with our coverage of Carolina Demography’s report on the North Carolina Education Pipeline, you will recall one key challenge for North Carolina in achieving the statewide attainment goal is what Rebecca Tippett calls “partway home” students — students who enter postsecondary but fail to complete. These students are vulnerable and often left with substantial debt. The Chronicle of Higher Ed explores this through a stunning new piece entitled “The College Dropout Scandal.” The intro to the piece sums it up: “Forty percent of students don’t graduate. No one is held accountable. No one is fired. That must change.”

Thank you for allowing us into your inbox again this week. As you may have noticed, we are continuing to tweak the newsletter to serve your needs. One new section, Around North Carolina, is focused on what is happening on your campuses. Please send me an email when you have something that we might want to feature. We are also working on story ideas ahead of the one-year anniversary of the launch of this newsletter and our work around community colleges if you have ideas!

I also want to thank Susan Nobles, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement for Pitt Community College, who retired last week for her service to our students and our state. I have been privileged to get to know Susan throughout my visits to Pitt County in recent years. 

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Have a great week,


EdNC Reads

How legislative tactics almost shut down an early college high school

One early college high school in North Carolina was almost shuttered thanks to a negotiating gambit by Senate Republicans. But at the last minute, the local school board voted to restore the school. I encourage you to dig deep on the full story on the Marine Science and Technology Early College High School. 

‘Straight on a path of success – Machining and industry partnerships at McDowell Tech

My colleague Yasmin Bendaas profiles the McDowell Tech Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center. She quotes instructor Wayne Stines, who expresses common sentiment from many faculty members we’ve met across the state: “It’s so gratifying to see the success of a student from the time they walk in until they graduate. It’s so gratifying to teach a skill that can save somebody’s life, literally, and get them straight on a path of success in their life, with a career, with a skill. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Blue Ridge students parenting while in college

We published this perspective from Blue Ridge Community College last week that spotlighted three mothers who are balancing parenting and their academic career. This quote inspired me: “If you want to, do pursue it, and don’t let your income, or certain dynamics in your life, don’t let that voice tell you that you can’t do it because you can, and there are ways to make it work. Don’t be afraid to reach out for something new you’re passionate about, don’t hesitate.”

Other Reads

Why community colleges might be the best path for high school graduates — but they’ll never know it

This might sound familiar: “With no one to guide her, Jennifer Hernandez applied to a number of four-year colleges – some local, some chosen at random – not realizing until she received her acceptance letters that she could not afford them. She then scrambled, on her own, to apply to a community college later in the spring of her senior year.”

It seems like a no-lose idea: free college. But nobody can agree on the details.

This piece explores the existential debate for free college: “Should it be restricted for those of limited means? Or should everyone benefit equally, even if it’s a student who has been raised amid privilege and goes on to become a high-earning doctor or a lawyer?”

Who wants to be a college president?

The Atlantic explores the role of being a college president today through the prism of Carol Folt and her resignation as president of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Our perspective: Don’t Be embarrassed about going to community college. Put it on your resume.

The headline says it all.

Around North Carolina

Nash and Edgecombe Community Colleges launch new collaboration

NC Wesleyan College, Nash Community College, and Edgecombe Community College announced a new statement of collaboration last week. I thought back to our feature of Strategic Twin Counties Educational Partnership that speaks to the opportunities these various institutions are embracing around collaboration from this fall. 

The best Community Colleges in America – 2019 Edition

SmartAsset, one of several organizations rating community colleges, just released their 2019 rating of community colleges. SmartAsset said they “looked at data for 796 community colleges across three metrics: graduation and transfer rate, cost and student-to-faculty ratio.” Six of the top 10 colleges they rated were in North Carolina. Check out the list and let us know what you think!

More construction at Central Piedmont Community College getting underway

The Charlotte Observer has the story: “Construction for the new library and student center complex on central Piedmont Community College’s central campus will being in early August. The 173,000-square-foot complex will be open to students in January 2022.”

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Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with the correct spelling of SmartAsset.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.