Published by Acadeum
In the evolving landscape of higher education, two-year colleges share many challenges, including nurturing student success while adapting to the unique needs of their geographic settings, funding disparities, offering courses that fit student degree plans, and limited local enrollment pools. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Why Fixing the Transfer Process Is an Equity Issue for Colleges,” noted that “while four out of five students who start at a two-year college hope to complete a four-year degree, fewer than one in five do so.” Amid these challenges, collaboration through course sharing has emerged as a game changer for many two-year colleges in the state of Texas.
Higher education institutions are increasingly coming together, transcending traditional boundaries to create pathways that lead students toward graduation. This blog explores the remarkable stories of Ranger College, Texarkana College, Vernon College, Western Texas College, and Jacksonville College, showcasing how their innovative approaches partnered with the Acadeum network for collaboration and course sharing between colleges are transforming the educational landscape for students. Continue reading to delve into the ways these institutions are bolstering enrollment, keeping students on their academic pathways, and ultimately opening doors for a brighter future in higher education.
Course Sharing Opens Doors for Students
Course sharing has freed Ranger College (RC) from worrying about whether a course would enroll enough students to be offered on campus and helped expand student access. It has also empowered accurate advising and helped keep students on their academic pathway. Before course sharing, students had limited access. If they took a course that didn’t transfer into their degree program, the student lost time and money. With course sharing, Ranger College saw increased enrollments in the May term that traditionally didn’t attract a lot of students. And since fall 2020, RC has impacted 136 students. Course sharing expands RC’s catalog and enhances transfer pathways.
Increasing Scheduling Flexibility
Texarkana College (TC) utilizes course sharing to offer asynchronous courses for students who balance coursework outside their working hours. Through course sharing, students access fully online courses or nighttime courses that give students scheduling flexibility. Course sharing also offers options to advisors trying to fill a schedule, whether it’s trying to get a student to full-time status or offering a student one last course in their academic pathway. The main benefit of course sharing for the campus is offering more options because so many students are working students with a day job. Students must take night classes, but TC doesn’t necessarily offer every needed class online without course sharing. Through course sharing, TC offers increased scheduling flexibility for students who need to supplement their schedule. Most notably, in its first year of course sharing, Texarkana College experienced a 94% pass rate.
Keeping Students on Their Academic Pathway
Since joining the Acadeum network in the summer of 2021, Vernon College campus leaders have connected over 230 students to the courses they need to catch up or get ahead, tapping offerings from trusted partners in the network while keeping students connected to Vernon.
As The Chronicle of Higher Education noted, students hoping to major in a particular subject at a four-year institution find that different institutions have different requirements for courses. And many students find that the community college course they took might transfer only as an elective, if at all. For Vernon College, course sharing fills in the gaps for students who might need an elective for their teaching degree at a transfer institution or for those who need core classes in physics instead of biology. This not only benefits the students but also the college, as Vernon College now advertises courses available through course sharing in the course catalog to increase awareness and new enrollment. Students home from neighboring four-year institutions can pick up a summer math course that Vernon College offers because they see it in the schedule.
Filling Empty Seats and Offering Dual Enrollment
Inside Higher Ed noted that “dual-enrollment programs offer colleges a new and consistent source of students who are more likely to enroll at the institutions where they are taking their college-level courses. In addition to helping grow student rolls, dual-enrollment programs are also expanding access to college, which public school administrators, college officials and higher education researchers see as a win-win.” Western Texas College (WTC) has successfully incorporated dual-enrollment opportunities into its programs, impacting 800+ high school students per year.
The decision to work with high school students involved open-mindedness on the part of the college administration. WTC addressed specific barriers related to Texas Success Initiative (TSI) requirements and developed an innovative approach to handling the differences between regular dual credit and online high school students. By listing high school students as non-degree seeking, WTC provided more flexibility to students looking to take a course or two and explore their interests. Through course sharing and leveraging the Acadeum network, the college has expanded dual-enrollment opportunities and provides quality online education to students in rural areas across the country.
Extra Care in Online Education
When students attend Jacksonville College (JC) from another institution they receive extra support through FAQ videos and screenshots showing examples, and personal outreach from faculty . That extra intervention is particularly important in short-term classes because, if students get behind, it often creates a snowball effect. Another way JC helps students taking courses online is by asking all faculty to use the syllabus builder, which results in a consistent template across all courses. JC often sees students take multiple courses, and this ensures that students access a syllabus that looks similar and consistent to other courses they’ve taken.
Collaboration between Teaching Institutions like Jacksonville College and Home Institutions in the Acadeum network create an environment of opportunity for students to complete courses on their pathway to graduation by connecting partner institutions and the resources they offer to help students succeed.
Roadmaps for the Future
These stories exemplify the profound impact that institutions can achieve when they prioritize collaboration and innovation. The lessons learned from Ranger College’s commitment to opening doors, Texarkana College’s increased scheduling flexibility for students, Western Texas College’s innovation in offering dual enrollment, Vernon College’s dedication to keeping students on their academic pathways, and Jacksonville College’s extra care in online education are not just inspiration. These stories provide roadmaps for the future success of students and the institutions that serve them. In the world of higher education, the journey to graduation is a shared one, and collaboration paves the way for brighter horizons and ensures that all students have the opportunity to complete their educational pathway to graduation.