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What is the state of attainment in NC?

A note from us

Hello, Nation and Emily here. If you missed last week’s Awake58 edition, you can read it by clicking here.

myFutureNC held their State of Attainment event with key elected and statewide leaders…  It is financial aid awareness month… Wayne Community College’s partnership with Smithfield Foods is a finalist for the AACC national award for college and corporate partnership category… 

myFutureNC held a State of Attainment event on Monday to update everyone on the state’s progress towards the overall statewide attainment goal. As a refresher, the goal by 2030 is for 2 million North Carolinians ages 25-44 to have a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree.

Here’s some context for where we are now, from Mebane’s article on the event: “Based on the most recent census data, North Carolina remains 444,000 individuals short of reaching the 2030 goal, and already 31,000 skilled workers behind where the state needs to be to stay on track to meet the goal, according to the press release.”

Statewide elected and business leaders joined together to share their perspectives on moving forward. myFutureNC also endorsed two legislative proposals that you can read about below.

Last week, we also published a series of perspectives on early colleges, including a piece examining the use of professional networks to align efforts among early colleges, the role of innovation for the schools, and success stories of graduates. We’ll also have articles out this week examining Career and College Promise, including Cooperative and Innovative High Schools.

Our team will be traveling across the state this week. We attended the State of Attainment event in Raleigh yesterday, Emily is with the ElevateNC cohort in Wilmington this week, and our team will be at the state legislature daily.

We’ll see you out on the road,

Emily and Nation

EdNC reads

State leaders united on attainment

Statewide business and policy leaders gathered on Monday for myFutureNC’s event, “The State of Educational Attainment in North Carolina,” to discuss key issues related to the pursuit of the statewide attainment goal. Business leaders were united in making the case that accomplishing the goal is an economic imperative for our state.

The event focused on sharing the most recent attainment data — as well as on two legislative priorities to help close the gap to the goal. Here’s an excerpt from Mebane’s article:

According to myFutureNC, the most recent data shows that for every 100 ninth-grade public school students in North Carolina, only 28 earn a degree or credential within six years of graduating high school. Meanwhile, community college enrollment is down 13% since before the pandemic, and jobs requiring a postsecondary degree or credential are projected to increase by 12% by 2030.

myFutureNC endorsed two legislative proposals to help move the state toward the 2 million by 2030 goal:

  • Career Planning for Every Middle and High School Student — The Department of Public Instruction’s and the State Board of Education’s call for career planning for every middle and high school student will position students better to explore educational and career opportunities years before graduation. The legislative proposal requires an individualized career plan in place for each middle and high school student.

  • R.A.I.S.E. Scholarships — R.A.I.S.E. Scholarships which stands for Reinforcement and Investment to Strengthen the Economy will extend the state’s existing support for no-cost pathways to short-term industry-valued credentials. This will encourage more North Carolinians to enroll in programs that connect them to career opportunities in high-growth and/or high-demand fields that pay higher wages.

For the full recap, click here. Mebane’s write-up also includes comments from Gov. Roy Cooper, Sen. Phil Berger (R-Guilford), and Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

A series of perspectives on early colleges

We published three perspectives on early colleges last week from Krystal Cox and Frank McKay of RTI International. The perspectives walk you through the history of the early college model, as well as continued developments.

Cox and McKay opened the series by pointing out the evolution of the early college model may have surprised folks who were there at its inception: “When early colleges first emerged in North Carolina, many educators did not realize these innovative schools would grow to provide powerful educational opportunities for students in nearly every county in the state.”

The three perspectives are linked below.

Perspective | The power of early colleges: Stronger together

Early colleges have to navigate unique challenges like operating as a high school on a college campus (or having to bus students to a remote campus), integrating high school and college schedules for students, building community awareness about the benefits of students attending an early college, and recruiting students who can benefit from the school.

Cox and McKay document efforts to bolster collaboration to help colleges solve for that problem.

Perspective | The power of early colleges: Innovative practices

Innovative practices implemented in early college high schools have become a staple of their success and include a focus on classroom instruction as well as broader supports for students. Innovative practices in the early college setting can take many forms, but some of the more common ones include intentional planning to scaffold learning in a rigorous academic environment, enhanced opportunities for staff and student collaboration, increased opportunities for student “voice and choice” to develop student agency, purposeful student supports, and an intentional approach to authentic learning that includes project-based learning (PBL) and work-based learning.

The authors spotlight three models from across the state, including the Wake Early College of Health & Sciences, Yadkin Valley Regional Career Academy, and Southeast Area Technical High School (SEA-TECH). To read more about each of the models, click here.

Perspective | The power of early colleges: Graduate success stories

The authors collect several stories from recent graduates from early colleges. Here are some of their testimonials:

“For the first time, I had to learn independence. Without the staff at WECHS, I wouldn’t have achieved anywhere near the measure of fulfillment I have now,” – Geterry Sidbury-Crawford

“They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself; they continued to encourage me. They pushed me to be the best I could be.” – Jasmine Keene

For the full stories from each of the students, click here to read the article.

Around NC

As part of Financial Aid Awareness month, NCSEAA and CFNC are hosting a How to Pay for College webinar series.  Full details below:

Funding a college education shouldn’t be a mystery.  Having a better understanding of the funding landscape can help families build a sound plan so students can focus on their studies. We will cover all the important topics you need to know to pay for college:

Week 2 – Scholarships “Ask the Experts” panel

This week we bring together experts who lead scholarship programs at various organizations throughout North Carolina.  The best scholarships are local ones, and these experts will share where to look for scholarships you qualify for and how to put your best foot forward in your application.

Date and Time: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, 6-7 p.m. Register here.


  • Shawn Henderson, NCSEAA scholarship program manager
  • Parker Shields, North Carolina Community Foundation scholarships manager
  • Timothy L. Sampson, University of North Carolina-Pembroke director of financial aid & scholarships

Host:  Kathy Hastings McDonald, NCSEAA associate director for outreach

Week 3 – FAFSA’s done – show me the money!

Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps you can take in accessing financial aid to help pay for college.  But there may still be steps to take once your application is submitted.  In this session we will share how to read your Student Aid Report, how to correct any errors, what to do if you get selected for verification and how to work with your college financial aid office if you or your family’s financial situation has changed.

Date and Time: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, 6-7 p.m. Register here.

Presenter: Lee Bray, director of financial aid, Pitt Community College

Host: Kathy Hastings McDonald, NCSEAA associate director for outreach

Week 4 – Evaluating financial aid award letters

The cost of going to a private college can be very different from going to a public college or university so it can be hard to understand the financial aid award letters you receive from each institution and compare apples to apples.  In this session we will help you consider the financial aid award packages you received so you can make the best choice for your education goals.

Date and Time: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, 6-7 p.m. Register here.

Presenter: Timeka Ruffin, CFNC Representative

Host: Kathy Hastings McDonald, NCSEAA associate director for outreach

NC10 | From EdDaily last week: “Ever wonder about our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina? Did you know that we have the oldest HBCU in the South and the largest HBCU in the country? Are you still looking at colleges to attend next fall or in the future? The third annual North Carolina HBCU showcase will be held on Feb. 23 at 6-7:30 p.m. Here is the link to register.”

Higher Ed Works profiled Fayetteville State University’s work with adult learners with a video and an article last week.

We reported on Shaw University’s work to reimagine their campus to secure the institution’s financial future in the fall. Shaw announced on Jan. 29 that they have formally filed for rezoning with the city of Raleigh.

The transfer research team at UNC Charlotte has released a new brief based on 103 interviews of pre- and post-transfer community college students in North Carolina. Through the voices of transfer students, the report shows how they are navigating the complexities of transfer and concludes with a discussion of North Carolina’s transfer assets and opportunities. Additional work by the team at Charlotte is available on their website.

Craven Community College President Ray Staats spoke with local media on the legislative requests for the system:

“We are below average both in the southern region and nationally. I think we’re ranked about 41st in the country,” he said of salaries.

Staats said the disparity makes it hard to attract quality faculty and staff members, particularly in tech areas. He added that they often will advertise a position and only have one or two candidates. In some instances, he says before they can even hire a preferred candidate, they’ve accepted a job elsewhere.

Robeson Community College announced, “a $242,690 grant from BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina to begin an insurance pre-licensing program. The grant seeks to create a more diverse pool of applicants and more minorities are encouraged to apply, scholarships which cover the full cost of the training are available for those who meet the eligibility criteria.”

Our congratulations goes out to Wayne Community College for the following news: “The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has named Wayne Community College and Smithfield Foods as finalists for a national award. The two are up for a 2023 Awards of Excellence in the Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership category for the apprenticeship program they developed and share.”

Other higher education reads

National enrollment projections for last fall

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has an in-depth overview of projections for fall enrollment data across higher education: “Fall undergraduate enrollment has begun to stabilize in 2022, contracting only by 0.6 percent or about 94,000 students, compared to fall 2021. However, postsecondary enrollment remains well below pre-pandemic levels, down about 1.23 million undergraduates and 1.11 million total enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate, compared to fall 2019.”

For all of the data, click here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is the Director of Postsecondary Attainment for EducationNC.