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Advice from adult learners for other adult learners

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Hi, Nation here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed our last newsletter featuring conversations with the business community and elected officials visiting community colleges, you can find it on our website.

The State Board of Education heard feedback on the College and Career Ready Graduates (CCRG) program last week during their meeting… We documented a recent conversation at a NC Chamber event about the “21st century community” and lifelong learning… Plus, some highlights from my visit to Piedmont Community College…

I hope that all of you had a good Labor Day weekend — and that you are having a great start to the fall semester. We did not send out Awake58 last week due to the holiday.

In this week’s edition, you will find my colleague Rupen Fofaria’s write-up on last week’s State Board of Education meeting, which included a report on the College and Career Ready Graduates program after one full year of implementation. You will also find a write-up on a recent conversation at the NC Chamber event about a changing North Carolina that is worth a read. At that event, Anita Brown-Graham of ncIMPACT asked the audience questions the entire state would benefit from considering as population shifts continue: “Who lives downtown? Who lives in the suburbs? Who gets left in the more remote places in North Carolina? I think that’s a social challenge that we’re going to have to spend some time thinking about.”

I had the opportunity to visit Piedmont Community College yesterday. President Dr. Pamela Senegal and her team put together a comprehensive visit that highlighted the communities they serve, their work to identify and target students with some college experience and no degree, and their ambition to continue growing the talent pipeline in their service area.

The emotional highlight of the day was the opportunity to hear from five adult students at Piedmont Community College during a panel discussion. One student in his early 50s is studying to be an educator. Two more students are working toward becoming nurses — and supporting one another on their journey. All of their stories were powerful and reminded us of the importance of the work you all do every single day.

At the end of the panel, the students were asked what advice they would give to other adult learners who were considering a return to school. They told us:

“Don’t stop.”

“Don’t second guess yourself.”

“You are never too old.”

“I would ask them: why not?”

“Fulfill your dream.”

The panel served as a reminder that your students and faculty are often your best storytellers and advocates. I appreciate President Senegal and her team for our time together.

And I appreciate your ongoing readership and support of Awake58!

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

DPI wants more time before schools implement Parents’ Bill of Rights. Plus, a look at test scores

Last week the State Board of Education heard feedback on the College and Career Ready Graduates (CCRG) program.

In 2015, former state senator Chad Barefoot, who saw a relative navigate the experience of math remediation after enrolling at Wake Technical Community College, sponsored the bill that would eventually establish CCRG in 2016.

CCRG is a partnership between the public school and community college systems that would offer remediation to high school seniors so they can catch up in English and math before enrolling in college. After laying the groundwork through pilots and statewide training, implementation was interrupted by COVID-19 in 2020 and again in 2021-22 due to lack of funding.

Last year, the General Assembly funded the program for the first time, and the state began its first full year of implementation. The community college system decided to use the NROC EdReady software to provide these courses to high school students.

On Wednesday, Tammy Howard, DPI’s senior director for the Office of Accountability and Testing, presented data from surveys to students and educators after the first year of implementation.

A majority of students felt they had enough time to complete the coursework and take the required testing for CCRG credit. However, only about 25% felt that CCRG helped them learn new content or save money in college.

Rupen’s article has more details, including feedback from students on suggested changes to the program.

Panelists discuss the future of North Carolina and the 21st century community

A recent panel at a North Carolina Chamber event focused on the “21st century community” featured Dr. Zachary Barricklow, vice president of rural innovation at Wilkes Community College, among other leaders such as Anita Brown-Graham from the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government.

With the advancement of technology and the introduction of artificial intelligence, employers are watching the workforce drastically shift in months rather than years.

“It has to be a mindset of continuous education,” Barricklow said. “Our systems need to adapt, and as we prepare for our next generation, we need to instill that mindset.”

Barricklow suggests we need to break away from the traditional belief that education is restricted to the early years of life, and then we stop learning. He says we should be open to the idea of continuous learning, which means acquiring new skills, knowledge, and experiences throughout our lifetime.

There are several reasons why continuous learning is important. First, it allows individuals to adapt to the ever-changing job market and remain relevant in their chosen professions. Second, it broadens one’s knowledge and perspectives, leading to personal and professional growth. Third, it increases employability and earning potential. Lastly, it can enhance one’s quality of life by providing opportunities for learning new things that promote creativity and personal fulfillment.

My colleague A’brianna Dones documented the full conversation, including insights around coming demographic changes.

Around NC

The State Board of Community Colleges will meet this week, Sept. 13-15, at Wayne Community College. Hannah will be present covering the meetings. Details from the system listed below:

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges will have meetings as follows:

  • Professional Development, Sept. 13 at 11:30 a.m. View agenda
  • Committee Meetings, Sept. 14 at 9:00 a.m. View agenda.

The meetings are open to the public, but some portions may be conducted in closed session, pursuant to state law.

Hannah will have a story next week.

Cape Fear Community College announced a partnership between the college, New Hanover County Schools, and Novant Health to provide CNA instruction to 11th and 12th grade students.

Central Carolina Community College continues to promote “eight week terms” to prospective students across their service area. The college is also currently offering its first Customized Training Industrial Robotics Technician course.

Central Piedmont Community College announced the following recognition for its Hagemeyer Library: “The one-year-old Hagemeyer Library, located on Central Piedmont Community College’s Central Campus, has earned the distinction of being included in American Libraries’ 2023 Design Showcase. The annual showcase seeks to identify and highlight the most impressive new and renovated libraries in the United States.”

Forsyth Technical Community College is partnering with the Education Design Lab, Gates Foundation, and community stakeholders to host a signature event dubbed “Equity Accelerate” this week.

Pitt Community College announced the opening of registration for its third annual “Better Skills, Better Jobs” fair, aimed at adult jobseekers and adult learners.

Other higher education reads

Americans Are Losing Faith in the Value of College. Whose Fault Is That?

The New York Times Magazine has its in-depth education issue out this week. This provocatively titled article highlights some data that should concern everyone in higher education:

A decade later, Americans’ feelings about higher education have turned sharply negative. The percentage of young adults who said that a college degree is very important fell to 41 percent from 74 percent. Only about a third of Americans now say they have a lot of confidence in higher education. Among young Americans in Generation Z, 45 percent say that a high school diploma is all you need today to “ensure financial security.” And in contrast to the college-focused parents of a decade ago, now almost half of American parents say they’d prefer that their children not enroll in a four-year college.

While the article primarily discusses four-year institutions, the students who believe a high school diploma is all they will need will impact us all.

The reality, though, is that in the decade ahead, opportunities for those without a postsecondary credential are projected to shrink even further. It is true that there are still some well-paying jobs that don’t require a degree — plumbers make a median of almost $60,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but the B.L.S. predicts that fewer than 10,000 new plumbing jobs will be created in the United States between now and 2031. The fastest-growing jobs available to those with only a high school diploma, meanwhile, are mostly low-wage service jobs: home health aides (924,000 new jobs by 2031), food-service workers and waiters (570,000 new jobs), restaurant cooks (419,000 new jobs) and warehouse workers (358,000 new jobs). None of these jobs have a median salary above $31,000 a year.

At the same time, economists expect demand for American college graduates to keep rising faster than colleges can keep up, which means the college wage premium is likely to increase as well.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.