The number of historically underserved and nontraditional students continues to grow in the two-year sector. Additionally, community college students are increasingly enrolled part-time, juggling classes with work and family commitments. These populations now comprise the majority of today’s community college students, yet their completion rates continue to lag behind those of the traditional student.
The changing circumstances of today’s students coupled with outdated institutional practices result in persistent success barriers that often widen achievement gaps. With this growing sense of urgency comes heightened pressure for community college leaders to confront the challenges that delay underserved and nontraditional student success.
This action plan examines strategies for community college leaders to tackle these challenges and promote equitable opportunities. Get started by downloading the resource or navigate to a specific guiding question:
How Do We Make a Cross-Campus Faculty Investment in Equity?
To enlist faculty support as champions of systemic equity reform, the following strategies empower faculty to engage in key aspects of change.
Strategy 1: Create Cascading Accountability for Equity Initiatives
Strategy 2: Recruit for Faculty Strengths When Enlisting Input in Equity Planning
Strategy 3: Embed Inclusive Practices in New Faculty Training
How Do We Promote Equitable Academic Outcomes?
It’s often in the classroom where underserved students experience achievement gaps that can ultimately delay their progress towards completion. To promote inclusivity and equitable outcomes in the classroom, leading colleges revise day-to-day pedagogical strategies and existing course materials to ensure coursework is engaging and accessible for all students.
Strategy 4: Use Low-Stakes Assessments Early and Often
Strategy 5: Promote Student Engagement Through Active Learning Practices
Strategy 6: Conduct a Jargon-Reduction Audit of Course Materials
Strategy 7: Highlight Industry-Aligned Competencies in Existing Curricula
How Do We Ease the College Transition for Underserved Students?
Colleges that engage students prior to their arrival on campus can proactively address challenges by preparing students to meet the rigor of college-level coursework and to navigate the bureaucratic practices of the college system.
Strategy 8: Prepare Underserved Students Through Easy-Access Summer Programs
Strategy 9: Establish On-Demand Student Support
Strategy 10: Provide Pre-Enrollment Assistance with Equity-Driven Success Course
How Do We Devise Sustainable Advising Structures?
In order to create sustainable advising solutions, the following strategies help colleges increase the number of student-to-advisor interactions through improved ease of access, targeted interventions, and technology optimization.
Strategy 11: Ensure Easy Access to Advisors with Temporary Advising Stations
Strategy 12: Target Unresponsive and High-Risk Students with Tiered Outreach
Strategy 13: Build Student Confidence Through Pre-Enrollment Resilience Primer
Strategy 14: Reinforce Productive Student Behavior with Positive Alerts
How Do We Create Systemic Change to Support Nontraditional Populations?
Meeting the needs of nontraditional populations doesn’t call for an entire overhaul of institutional policies and services—instead, colleges can facilitate student persistence by maximizing existing resources and expanding upon current practices to create systems more conducive to nontraditional student success.
Strategy 15: Shift Perceptions of Student Involvement
Strategy 16: Maximize Student Service Access with Personalized Resource Nudges
Strategy 17: Advance Term-to-Term Persistence with Proactive Outreach
Strategy 18: Automate Student Withdrawal Surveys to Identify Greatest Student Barriers
Strategy 19: Engage Late-Term Stop Outs Through Targeted Reenrollment Campaign
Strategy 20: Expand Student Access to Prior Learning Assessment Opportunities
Strategy 21: Facilitate Completion with Multi-Term Registration