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Hello, Awake58 readers!

As we approach the end of 2019, this newsletter will take a break after a special edition later this week focused on early colleges. We will return in mid-January with the latest news, research, and data in the community college space each week.  We will also return with an all new EdNC.org as we near our five-year anniversary!

For the final regular edition of Awake58 this year, I wanted to spotlight some of our most-read pieces of 2019. Over the past year (and the four months prior!) we have published hundreds of stories (and many more videos and tweets!) about community colleges, and we have traveled to all 58 campuses — many of them more than once.

The stories below are a sampling of our most-read pieces, but I would also encourage you to spend time looking at our research on funding. We looked at historical and present-day challenges in funding in this piece from John Quinterno, while a companion article illustrated how the funding system developed. Finally, we paired those with this video that tells the story of the system.

I may be biased, but I also found our Extra Hill to Climb series to be a powerful reminder of the many barriers to attainment so many of our community college students face. We explored how a botched FAFSA presented a hurdle; we looked at the challenges of hurricane recovery for students already on the edge; we examined the hard work it takes to become an early childhood educator, and the career on the other end of that work; and we dove into the  sobering statistics on hunger, housing, and other challenges. For the whole series, click here!

Finally, as we prepare for 2020, we are also working on research into faculty pay. You all have shared many stories on this front with us, and we are listening. If you have a story to share, please reply directly to this email, and we may include your story in the project.

You have been kind enough to welcome us to your campuses this year — and to welcome Awake58 to your inboxes. We appreciate your willingness to let us tell your stories so very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

See you soon,

Nation Hahn

Director of Growth, EdNC

EdNC 2019: Some of our most-read articles

Will North Carolina still have 58 community colleges in 10 years?

This piece from September was our most-read community college article of the year. Enrollment trends are clear: In the years before and during the recession, enrollment was on the incline, peaking in 2010. Since then, it’s been on a steady decline. The State Board dove deep on what could be done — and asked big questions about the future of the system.

Community college enrollment challenges are a problem for communities and the state

This piece on enrollment and funding from my colleague Rupen Fofaria kicked off an entire series on funding and enrollment we released earlier in the year. I would encourage you to read his piece and then check out the whole series if you are looking to dive deep on a critical issue in between glasses of egg nog and bites of peppermint bark.

How is the state going to increase community college enrollment?

Why did we report on this issue so much? Our reporter Alex Granados put the issue in stark relief in the opener to his piece: Over the past 12 years, community college enrollment statewide has dropped by 2%. But if you take Wake Technical Community College out of the equation, that figure becomes 6%.

Early college high schools face grim future under Senate budget plan

Our second most-read piece looked at a provision in the Senate budget that could have endangered the future of many early colleges had it passed. We never would have imagined the months of debate, votes, and more that awaited.

Cooperative Innovative High Schools: What are they and why does North Carolina have so many?

Across North Carolina, students at more than 130 small public high schools earn college credits while they work toward graduation. Many finish high school with an associate’s degree, some with workforce credentials or certificates, and some with a handful of credits transferable to four-year universities. This explainer gives a background on these schools that felt timely.

From Spartan to Tar Heel: Javonte Williams’ path to success

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Tar Heels fan — and Javonte Williams also happens to be one of my favorite recent players. With that said, I wasn’t the only one who loved this piece, as this feature on how James Sprunt CC gave Javonte Williams a head start on college was our most-read perspective of the year. We would welcome more perspectives from all of you in 2020. To learn how to submit one, click here.

Where do we stand on community college budget priorities?

Throughout the budget debates, we stuck with the story of how the community college budget priorities were faring. 

You need to fill out the FAFSA. Here’s how.

Completing the FAFSA is critically important for students. Many states have focused on FAFSA completion as an essential part of bolstering their statewide attainment rate. Our own Robert Kinlaw created a how-to guide. Please feel free to share it with people who need it!

Looking back at the Residency Determination Service

You all helped drive our coverage of the Residency Determination Service throughout the year. This piece focuses on the legislative fix, but feel free to take a dive through the entire series.

Other reads

Perspective | Framing the state’s myFutureNC goal at the local level

We covered the myFutureNC Commission from the beginning of the process. We thought the conversation on a statewide attainment goal was important. Now the commission is a standalone 501(c)(3) with its work beginning to ramp up. Matt Meyer from the NC Community College system office reminds us in this just-published piece that the future work will happen on the local level.

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.