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How can we transform community college transfer?

A note from us

Hi, Hannah here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed our last newsletter on the implementation of community college items in the state budget, you can find it on our website.

Another look at the case for community college transfer… Exploring district data on high school graduation rates and outcomes… Cape Fear Community College celebrates 20 years of its nuclear technology program… An update on the impact of career coaches…

This year’s legislative session is finally at an end, mostly. Lawmakers announced their adjournment on Oct. 25. They will meet once a month to discuss a limited number of topics starting on Nov. 29, until the short session starts on April 24. You can check out more details at Before adjourning, lawmakers approved several appointments, including to the State Board of Community Colleges, per the new appointment power granted to the General Assembly in the new state budget. Raleigh developer John Kane was approved to join the State Board.

This week we have another perspective from the Belk Center’s Audrey J. Jaeger on the value of community college transfers. In this installment, Jaeger explores various strategies for strengthening community college transfer, including maximizing credit transfer and aligning pathways. You can read the full perspective on our website.

The 2023 Dallas Herring Lecture is coming up fast! Speaker Dr. Falecia Williams explains this year’s topic, “Daring To Be Extraordinary.” We hope to see you there (in-person or virtually) on Nov. 14. Register here.

Our team will be on the road across North Carolina this week. Laura and I will be in Greenville for the State Board of Education’s planning retreat, and I’m excited to see Pitt Community College’s campus for the first time. Emily was at Davidson-Davie Community College yesterday, and Molly will be at Sampson Community College Thursday. Finally, Alli and Nation will be at Wake Technical Community College later this week.

As always, we’d love to hear what’s happening on your campuses. You can reply directly to this email, or email me at [email protected].

We’ll see you out on the road!

Hannah McClellan
EdNC Senior Reporter

EdNC reads

Perspective | A case for community college transfer: How do we transform transfer?

This week, we have the latest installment on community college transfer from the Belk Center’s AJ Jaeger.

North Carolina’s 58 community colleges  widely known as the “Great 58”  transform lives by providing high-quality, accessible and affordable educational opportunities that translate to family-sustaining careers.

They are economic engines attracting employers and jobs to communities across the state — and serve as critical points of entry to baccalaureate-granting institutions. With campuses in rural and urban communities, any North Carolinian can begin their higher education journey close to home, at an institution that is far less expensive and more responsive to their needs.

Extraordinary talent can be found at each and every campus. The problem is that currently, fewer than half of students are transferring and earning bachelor’s degrees. They are losing a pathway to higher-wage jobs and greater economic security.

Check out the full perspective, including various strategies for strengthening community college transfer, on our website.

High school graduation, outcomes, and more: How to find data on your school district

From EdNC’s Chantal Brown:

As Countdown to College Month winds down in North Carolina, districts and their communities can view the plans and statistics of past high school graduates.

Researchers at the Carolina Population Center (CPC) have provided instructions for how to navigate North Carolina public school data, including attendance rates and personnel for all of the state’s school districts.

The North Carolina Public Schools Statistical Profile can give parents, educators, and the general public information about school populations, graduation rates, and intentions of graduates down to the district and school level.

As stated on the CPC website, the database is a resource for obtaining information on North Carolina’s public school students, personnel, and finances. It is also useful for looking at enrollment data in public and charter schools.

You can search for your district here to receive specific information.

In-depth tutorials about how to navigate statedistrict, and school level can be found on Carolina Demography’s website. You can read the full article at

Perspective | Cape Fear Community College celebrates 20 years of excellence in nuclear technology education and industry partnerships

Last week, Cape Fear Community College President Jim Morton wrote a perspective marking the 20th anniversary of the college’s nuclear technology education and industry partnerships. Here’s an excerpt:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) associate degree in nuclear technology. With the terms climate change, decarbonization, and clean energy becoming commonplace, providing quality education for those pursuing careers in clean nuclear energy is more important than ever.

In 2003, CFCC and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) founded a nuclear technology program. The two organizations collaborated to develop a curriculum to provide quality training for the next generation of nuclear reactor technicians. In 2008, the program enrolled its first students.

GEH specialists teach specific courses within the program. Their instruction allows students to learn from seasoned professionals in the industry. One of those GEH specialists was John Zino, chief consulting engineer for advanced plant technology.

“It has been an absolute pleasure for me to support the CFCC nuclear technology program over the past eight years as a part-time instructor,” said Zino. “The experience has allowed me to work with some very talented and motivated aspiring young nuclear professionals in their pursuit to gain the foundational technical knowledge needed to contribute not only to the success of GEH but also to the success of the entire nuclear industry.”

Read the full perspective on our website.

Around NC

North Carolina career coaches served more than 30,000 K-12 students in the 2022-23 academic year, according to the NCCCS, up 51% from the 2021-22 academic year. The General Assembly increased funding for the program from $500,000 in 2015 to $5.6 million in 2022.

Representatives from across the UNC System are visiting community college campuses this week to answer questions and guide students through the transfer process. Check out this tweet for more details.

UNC System President Peter Hans recently joined Spectrum News’ Tim Boyum on the Tying it Together podcast. Hans discusses affordability, students struggling with mental health, adult learners, and more. You can listen to the podcast on Spectrum News’ Spotify channel.

Cape Fear Community College is offering a four-week winter session from Nov. 27 to Dec. 22. This session is designed for new and current students seeking a head-start on their next semester’s course load. Learn more at CFCC’s website. The college was also recently spotlighted by the Lumina Foundation’s Million Dollar Community College Challenge team.

Johnston Community College will once again host its JOCO WORKS Career Exposition on Nov. 2-3. The exposition, presented by Novo Nordisk, presents real-world simulations and information about career options for middle schoolers. Over 3,000 Johnston County eighth graders are expected to attend this industry-led collaborative, per a release from the college. For more information, visit

Last week, Pitt Community College’s Health Sciences Division showcased its programs during a career information fair for local high school students and members of the community. The event featured simulations to introduce attendees to Pitt’s health sciences facilities.

The Gaston College Fiber Innovation Center has received a $1.2 million equipment donation from Truetzschler, a German textile machinery manufacturer, building upon its anticipated opening next year, per a college release. The donated equipment features technology that is focused on circularity and reducing the carbon footprint of fiber and textile production.

Nine Charlotte-Mecklenburg nonprofits have formed the Crescent Coalition, a collaboration to support under-resourced students. The Crescent Coalition consists of Carolina Youth Coalition, Friedland Foundation, Gardhouse, GenOne, Greater Steps Scholars, Road to Hire, The Academy of Goal Achievers, UrbanPromise, and Wayfinders.

Wake Tech and Elizabeth City State University are joining forces on programs in aviation, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and criminal justice. Leaders signed a Memorandum of Agreement giving Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) a presence at Wake Tech East, the college’s newest location in Wendell.

Other higher education reads

Can Technology Help Community Colleges Avoid the Enrollment Cliff?

U.S. demographic data suggests that the pool of college-age students is shrinking, with the effects of that “cliff” to be felt starting in 2025. A recent Ed Tech report offers some suggestions on using technology in light of such data.

What awaits college and university leaders is the long-predicted enrollment cliff, the period around 2025 or 2026 when the effects of the Great Recession on this country’s birth rate will be realized as dramatically fewer high school seniors reach graduation. The supply of college-eligible students may never recover — at least not for the next two decades or until birth rates rebound to levels not seen since the turn of the century — so the stakes for how institutions respond could not be higher.

Compounding matters is something college and university leaders already know well: Enrollments everywhere, from two-year colleges to public land-grant universities and elite private colleges, took a dive when the pandemic hit in 2020. That enrollment drop has already caused dramatic consequences, including the merging or closure of dozens of institutions.

Community colleges have been hit especially hard in recent years. A modest 0.5 percent enrollment growth this spring barely made a dent in the staggering drops seen during the prior two years: 8.2 percent in 2022 and 10.1 percent in 2021, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

This is a moment that calls for quick, decisive innovation, and many community colleges excel at meeting just this sort of challenge. These institutions are accustomed to serving nontraditional students, have been pioneers in emerging teaching and learning modalities, and tend to be nimbler when responding to the needs of their local communities.

So, what can these colleges do meet the enrollment cliff head-on and avoid tumbling over the edge?

EdTech lifts up two strategies:

  • Investing in partnerships within the cities and regions they operate in, and
  • Investing in the technology needed to teach in any modality.

You can read the full article on Ed Tech’s website.

Hannah Vinueza McClellan

Hannah McClellan is EducationNC’s senior reporter and covers education news and policy, and faith.