SIG Focus: Community Colleges

From the March 9, 2016 NACAC Bulletin:

Co-Leaders of the Community Colleges Special Interest Group
Michele Brown, Oakton Community College (IL)
Julie Marlatt, College of DuPage (IL)

​NACAC Special Interest Groups (SIGs) nurture the growing diversity in our association by providing “micro” communities where members can network and add value to their membership experience. These smaller subsets of members are formed for the purpose of knowledge sharing and discussion among members with similar interests whether they are specific subjects, issues or type of institution, or students they serve. Stay connected with colleagues by joining the Community Colleges SIG Exchange Group.

The Community College Special Interest Group is designed to engage people in discussion about the unique issues facing community colleges. The following information is provided by the Community Colleges Special Interest Group.

New Jersey Community College Commits to Student Success

It is no secret that more and more of our nation’s students are graduating high school ill-prepared to do college level work. Approximately 68 percent of students entering community college require some developmental education. Community colleges have taken on the challenge of “righting the ship” to promote better prepared students coming out of high school. Early intervention programming for students before they graduate is a method that is essential in order to mitigate the high number of graduates needing developmental work.

New Jersey has dedicated itself to build even stronger bonds between its high schools and the community colleges that serve them. In the summer of 2015, the Department of Education (DOE) identified 18 districts throughout New Jersey as candidates to receive a Career and College Readiness Grant worth up to $250,000. The grant stated high schools in these low socioeconomic municipalities were to partner with the community colleges in their service area to develop and implement career exploration workshops as well as college readiness programming.

Atlantic Cape Community College (serving the two most southern counties in the Garden State—Atlantic and Cape May) teamed up with Wildwood High School and coordinated efforts to create and submit the Career and College Readiness Grant proposal to the DOE. Career knowledge became the focus of the proposal as data has proven a student’s knowledge of their career path will promote high success rates throughout their time in college. Recently, both schools were notified that the proposal was accepted and funding would be awarded to implement career planning. Working with up to 30 students, the program will take place in two stages, four hours each time.

Stage one of the career workshops will begin this month and go until the end of June.

The following will be covered in the initial round:

  • Career and College Readiness Orientation: Welcome from Atlantic Cape leadership, tour of Cape May County Campus, prepare students for workshops and goal setting
  • Meyers-Briggs Personality Assessment: Results to be reviewed by Atlantic Cape instructors
  • Self-Assessment: Students will utilize the Sigi3 career assessment tool. The assessment will cover values, interests, personality types, and a survey of the student’s skills
  • Occupation Search: Students will use Sigi3 to explore specific occupations. Using the information from their self-assessments, students will explore occupations based on their values, interests, personality type and skills
  • Portfolio and Resume Development: Students begin to develop a professional resume based on the information they have reviewed from personality assessment, Sigi3 and occupation search

Stage two of the career workshops will come in the form of a boot camp in June. This comprehensive programming will take place over the course of five days on campus. Students will:

  • Day 1: Select activities that best suit their needs by using an array of assessments
  • Day 2: Complete their portfolio and resumes and work on optimizing new study habits, internalizing new information, improving test performance and time management
  • Day 3: Take part in an interactive workshop: Education Pays: An Investment in the Future and continue with work projects from previous day
  • Day 4: Take part in an interactive workshop: What You Don’t Say Can Say It All and work on emotional well-being and a long-term game plan
  • Day 5: Participate in a long-term planning workshop to identify their next steps toward their education and obtaining their desired occupation

Establishing this ever-so integral partnership will bring about a much needed shift in the mindsets of students who tend to be lost when it comes to their options after high school completion. The students participating in this cohort, while not required to attend Atlantic Cape after graduation, will be tracked for career and college success after completion of the program. They will also complete a program evaluation which will identify what facets worked best and where improvements need to be made. The workshops and boot camp will serve as blueprint for other schools to implement for students seeking assistance and knowledge when it comes to career awareness.