In the beginning...
The State of California established Calbright College in July, 2018 as the first statewide, online community college district.
Calbright was established because capable, hardworking people are looking to improve their careers through education but falling into the trap of predatory, for-profit, colleges. Predatory institutions use slick marketing techniques and the promise of convenient online classes to lure students in, but often leave them in debt with a worthless diploma. Studies show that some people are worse off after attending a predatory, for-profit college than they would have been if they’d never enrolled at all.
We’re here to change that.
Nontraditional students are statistically the most vulnerable to predatory, for-profit colleges. The State of California decided that there should be a viable, public, legitimate, and supportive alternative to those institutions: one that would actually support students and help them achieve their career goals, all while remaining debt free.
On the cutting edge of education reform.
The factors that make us a new and unique kind of institution.
Our First Students
We began enrolling our first students in October of 2019 as part of a “beta cohort” to test this new model of education — a model which had never been tried before. Because our systems were new and untested, this cohort was deliberately kept small: only a few hundred students.
The coronavirus pandemic, which reached our shores in early 2020, severely disrupted not only the educational environment, but the lives of all our students.
Calbright’s senior administration also changed in 2020, with our first members of the executive team departing and a new incoming team of leaders here to replace them. By the end of our beta cohort in the fall of 2020, significant lessons had been learned about delivering supportive, online, competency based education to Calbright’s target population. These lessons were incorporated into the next iteration of Calbright’s educational model, which is currently experiencing significant, high-quality enrollment growth.
High Quality, Scalable Growth
In 2021, Calbright’s new administration established a strategic vision for our next three years, a plan which calls for over 5,000 actively enrolled students, hundreds of graduates, and 10 unique programs — all by the end of 2023.
In February 2022, Calbright hit a significant milestone in this plan: 1,000 actively enrolled students, and five active programs. Thus far, Calbright has achieved every goal its founding legislation set — on time, and ahead of schedule. A top priority for the near future is acquiring accreditation from a federally-recognized accrediting agency, which we also expect to complete by the end of 2023.
“With respect to higher education, it is clear just how much of our prosperity depends on the intellectual contributions of our institutions of higher learning. National leaders come from all over the world to visit California’s most innovative companies. Companies that are filled with highly educated and creative men and women—many of whom graduated from our public colleges and universities… Even with so many of our students attending college, there are still 2.5 million Californians between 25 and 34 who are in the workforce, but lack a postsecondary degree or certificate. These men and women often go out of state or pay high tuition at for-profit institutions to improve their skills and employability. For this group, I want to create the California Online College so these overlooked Californians can get the training they need conveniently and at very low cost.”
What Comes Next?
To see where we’ve been and where we’re going, take a look at this timeline from our 2021 Strategic Vision.