Reporter’s notebook

  • One college’s first look at fall enrollment
  • Apprenticeships steadily increase in North Carolina
  • Free, discounted workforce programs
  • More affordable housing options in Los Angeles
  • Filling a teacher gap
  • Alabama college adds new corrections degree

One college’s first look at fall enrollment

An Arkansas college this week released preliminary figures on its fall enrollment which show a drop in students taking credit courses but an increase in some career-credit areas.

NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) in Bentonville said that an unofficial preliminary count of 7,583 college-credit students enrolled on September 8, the 11th day of classes for the fall semester. That’s a 12 percent decrease compared with 8,649 students on the 11th day last fall.

NWACC said its 11th-day numbers only reflect students taking courses for college credit. The college also serves roughly 4,000 additional learners through workforce development, adult education and other career-credit programs. One career-credit program in particular has experienced a large increase: 189 career-credit students enrolled in the certified retail analyst program, a 105 percent increase compared to 89 students last fall.

NWACC officials noted that the initial snapshot does not reflect more registrations expected for the college’s 12-week and 8-week sessions scheduled to begin next week.

“Although our enrollment is lower than last year, what I am most pleased about is our ability to connect with and register over 7,500 students while keeping everyone safe,” Todd Kitchen, vice president of student services, said in a release, noting that the college aggressively pursued an enrollment goal that aligned with a newly formatted schedule due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus.

Apprenticeships steadily increase in North Carolina

The number of residents served by North Carolina’s apprenticeship program has nearly doubled in the past three years, according to a new report.

ApprenticeshipNC served 15,657 people in the fiscal year (FY) 2020, the most in 10 years, the report said.

That number is 37 percent more than in FY 2019, and participation has grown by 80 percent in the three years since the program moved to the community college system. In the last year alone, ApprenticeshipNC registered 117 new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and on-the-job learning programs.

The number of youth apprentices grew 18 percent during the fiscal year that ended June 30, rising to 890. Youth apprenticeships increased 87 percent between FY 2018 and 2020. Youth apprentices are ages 16 to 18.

“The popularity of youth apprenticeships continues to rise because high school students see the value of jumpstarting their career through work-based training and taking tuition-free community college courses under the Career and College Promise program,” said Bill Carver, interim president of the North Carolina Community College System.

Free, discounted workforce programs

A new initiative that pairs a California college with a local community to train residents tuition-free for in-demand, good-paying jobs kicks off this fall term.

Hire Local Oceanside, created by MiraCosta College and the city of Oceanside, will focus on programs geared for: biomedical equipment technology, welding, computer numeric control, engineering technician, machinist technology, electronic assembly technician and phlebotomy.

Oceanside conducted a needs assessment among local businesses and discovered a set of high-demand jobs that have been hard to fill.

“With so many people out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic and with so many local businesses facing challenges in hiring skilled workers, the Hire Local program presents an unprecedented opportunity for Oceanside residents to get the training needed for in-demand jobs,” said MiraCosta Superintendent/President Sunita “Sunny” Cooke.

The city will pay the college’s administrative costs, and a federal grant to MiraCosta will cover student tuition.

Meanwhile in Texas, the Austin Community College District (ACC) is offering deep tuition discounts for 12 fast-track programs in the region’s highest-demand sectors, including healthcare, information technology and skilled trades.

Offered through the college’s continuing education division, ACC’s entry-level fast-track programs provide students the skills training and credentials to enter a new career field, most in just three months, the college said. Between September 1 and December 31, students pay half of the tuition for all courses in the selected programs.

“When COVID-19 hit our region, our community took a hit. Thousands of people lost their jobs, many others were furloughed. We knew we had to find ways to help get Central Texans back to work,” said Chancellor Richard Rhodes, who also serves on the American Association of Community Colleges board of directors.

More affordable housing options in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) is partnering with the nonprofit organization Los Angeles Room & Board to provide affordable housing, meals and support services to about 35 students facing housing insecurity issues or homelessness.

The memorandum of understanding is similar to one the college district signed in the spring with the nonprofit Shower of Hope, which plans to provide eight beds and support services for male students enrolled at East Los Angeles College who are on the verge of homelessness.

“These partnerships are just the beginning of finding innovative solutions to help our students who are homeless and who need a safe place to sleep, to study and a place they can call home,” LACCD Board of Trustees President Andra Hoffman said in a release.

The first students are expected to begin moving into their new temporary housing later this month. Eligible students must be continuously enrolled at college, apply for financial aid, maintain a minimum satisfactory GPA, be employed or actively seeking employment and pay a monthly fee up ranging from $250 to $300.

In June, Cerritos College in Norwalk, California, and Los Angeles-based Jovenes opened The Village, which comprises modern townhomes with a mix of free and affordable rental options that can house up to 28 students.

Filling a teacher gap

Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina this week will start offering two new transfer degrees in teacher preparation to help address the state’s critical teacher shortage.

The programs — an associate in arts in teacher preparation and an associate in science in teacher preparation — will help create a larger pipeline for future teachers in elementary, middle and high schools, addressing the state’s critical teacher shortage, particularly in rural counties.

The degrees require 45 semester hours of general education courses and 14 hours of education courses, including one course with a focus on the science of reading instruction.

In addition, the State Board of Community Colleges also approved corresponding teacher preparation pathways for high school students enrolled in their respective college’s dual-enrollment Career & College Promise program.

Alabama college adds new corrections degree

Wallace State Community College’s criminal justice program has added a new corrections degree career option that includes courses on community-based correction, correctional rehabilitation and correctional counseling techniques, among others.

“This degree will give students the understanding of how a prison or jail operates and their duties as an officer. Many police officers begin their careers in a jail or prison,” said Thea Hall, program chair. “The correctional officer has many advancement opportunities, such as warden, correctional supervisor, probation officer and parole officer.”

Hall added prison reform efforts in Alabama are seeking to lower the credentials for employment from baccalaureate to an associate degree with a concentration in corrections education. The Alabama Department of Corrections is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with 26 correctional institutions.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.