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Imagine Grant Opens Doors for Community College Leader

By Mary Stegmeir

Dave Follick has a big job to do.

As dean of admissions at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, he’s charged with recruiting students and creating pathways for NCC grads to continue their education at four-year schools.

A NACAC Imagine Grant advanced his work in both areas, Follick said. He used the award to help finance his trip to this fall’s National Conference in San Diego.

“It’s more than just a professional development opportunity,” Follick said of the conference, which drew over 7,300 attendees. “It’s an opportunity to make connections and to grow articulation partnerships.”

Some of the admission representatives Follick met in San Diego ended up scheduling visits to the NCC campus. Others attended his college’s transfer fair — a biannual event that draws between 250 and 300 institutions each semester.

Connections made with high school counselors and college admission officers at events like the National Conference are critical to expanding opportunities for students, Follick said. They also have the potential to spur action and collaboration as counselors on both sides of the desk seek to improve transfer options.

Fifty-eight percent of four-year colleges and universities anticipate that the importance of transfer student recruitment will increase over the next three years, according to NACAC’s State of College Admission report.

The strategic shift comes as the total number of US high school graduates levels off. Following roughly two decades of growth, the number of high school graduates peaked in 2011-12, according to national data.

“It’s a changing landscape out there and we need to make sure we’re changing, too,” said Follick, a NACAC member. “As high school demographics shrink, the community college population continues to grow. Those students need the same attention as students who are looking to matriculate at a four-year college right out of high school.”

Having the chance to talk about those trends with colleagues from across the country was invaluable, Follick noted.

“The Imagine Grant can really open a lot of doors,” he said. “For community colleges, just being at the table is crucial.”

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Imagine Fund grants offer financial support to individuals or NACAC affiliates. Funds are used to support professional development, as well as innovative programs serving students and/or the profession.

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