Richmond Community College broke a new fall record with 2,501 students enrolling, an increase of 2.2 percent over last fall. More students are slated to enroll for a 12-week mini-mester beginning Sept. 24.
Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Accountability Bill Council told the RCC Board of Trustees during its Tuesday night meeting that the college has reached a “soft landing” where enrollment numbers have leveled off and are holding steady. Historically, a link between unemployment and high enrollment means enrollment drops when people return to the workforce.
“There are several factors at play for our enrollment,” said Council. “Our new programs account for the biggest gain in student numbers. We also had an increase in the number of early college high school students enrolled. The College and Career Promise program brought us over 100 students from the high schools. We have done a better job of marketing and of serving students. They took advantage of the early enrollment opportunities, which meant 400 people were registered over the final two days of registration instead of the traditional 800. Faculty also did an exceptional job of retaining existing students.”
The Associate Degree Nursing faculty were recognized for the success of their 2012 graduates, who posted a 97 percent passage rate on taking the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) the first time. Nursing Department Chair Carole Gibson said this is the first group of students to graduate under a new concept-based curriculum that puts faculty in the role of facilitators and makes students more responsible for their learning.
“We consistently survey graduates to learn how we can better serve our students and have adjusted the curriculum accordingly,” said Gibson. “Students are now required to have their CNA license before enrolling. We use the time taken to teach those skills to focus on critical thinking skills. Simulations have been incorporated into the clinical component of every course. Proficiency tests are administered and students who score less than 80 percent on tests will go through remediation to master the skill. We will continue to look for ways to increase retention in our program and success for our students.”
Distance Learning Coordinator Taylor McCaskill has worked with faculty to develop courses to meet students’ needs, and he briefed the RCC board on those efforts.
“Our focus is on quality, not quantity,” said McCaskill. “We have increased the number of distance learning courses by 26.5 percent over the past year. That number also holds true for the percentage of students enrolled in these courses. We have a younger student body that are used to smart phones and laptops. They want DL courses. I deal with the students who take these courses and many are employed full-time or have to pay babysitters so they can come to school. They like the economy and convenience DL courses provide, and we’re striving to develop courses to meet student demand.”
RCC Accounting Major Larry Chavis of Hamlet offered a presentation on his trip to the University of Denver for a week at the Accounting Scholars Development Program. He was among 30 community college students nationwide selected to attend the program sponsored by national accounting firms interested in promoting the accounting profession to minorities. He learned leadership and networking skills. He plans to transfer to UNC-Greensboro for a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting. His goal is to become a certified public accountant.
Scotland Early College High School Principal Joe Critcher and Richmond Early College High School Principal Michael Chapman were recognized for the outstanding success their high schools achieved last year. Both are Honor Schools of Excellence, which means at least 90 percent of their students’ scored at or above achievement Level III and met growth standards outlined in the state’s ABCs criteria. Only 278 schools in the state reached these goals.
RCC Liaisons Kary Edmondson and Judy Clark were recognized for their success in working with students and with the faculty at both the college and high schools. Edmondson has been asked to present a model of how she operates as a liaison to the N.C. New Schools Project.
RCC President Dale McInnis presented the board a report on the college placement test scores of recent high school graduates and their growing need for remediation. He, Vice President for Instruction Tony Clarke, and the college faculty are working with the school administration in both Richmond and Scotland counties on joint strategies to improve high school graduates’ college readiness.