Calbright changed leadership and course in mid-2020, and spent much of 2021 redesigning its systems, creating a strategic vision, and investing in its capacities to serve students. At the end of 2021, we identified 2022 as our “high quality growth phase,” and we’ve lived up to that promise. This has been the year when Calbright began to show what it’s really capable of.
During the pandemic the California Community Colleges system experienced a decline of about 300,000 students – system-wide enrollment is now, maybe, showing signs of stabilization. Since July 2021, Calbright’s enrollment has more than tripled.
Even better, in 2022, Calbright doubled the number of certificates it awarded in comparison to the 2021 calendar year, and is on track for the current fiscal year (which began in July 2022) to more than double the number of certificates conferred compared to last fiscal year.
More Students, More Programs, More Outreach
Calbright students are from traditionally underrepresented populations—70% of students identify as members of the BIPOC community—and they are coming to Calbright because other programs, even online programs, aren’t accessible to them. Nearly nine-in-ten students cite Calbright’s model of free, flexible, Competency-Based Education, as the reason they enrolled. In addition, in a student survey administered in the spring of 2022, 90% of respondents said they would recommend Calbright to their friends.
Our enrollment numbers are expected to keep increasing. Calbright also spent 2022 developing new programs (like a certificate program in Data Analysis, which launched as a pilot in August), embarking on new outreach initiatives to connect with communities in places like the Inland Empire, South Los Angeles, and the Central Valley, and enhancing every department with new team members and new initiatives to support students and nurture their success.
In 2022 Calbright also began hosting regular live information sessions in which prospective students can talk to Calbright staff about our programs and unique model of education, and help put a face to our name. These sessions have been incredibly successful. Since launching in the Spring of 2022, over 200 prospective students have participated and 36%—more than one-in-three— are currently enrolled at the College. That’s a thriving recruitment effort, and it’s likely that number will grow as more students move through the enrollment process.
A Year of Meaningful Connections
Many of the advances in 2022 are easily visible, like the increasing number of students and graduates, but many of Calbright’s most successful changes have been behind the scenes.
But we haven’t just connected with new institutions: we’ve worked to better connect Calbright students with each other.
This year Calbright laid the foundation for the formation of a student government, which will give students more ways to participate and shape their education. Calbright also launched the ExLL program (Experiential Learning and Leadership), which provides peer tutoring and mentoring, empowering students to turn to one another for support and guidance as well as their faculty and counselors.
Calbright also implemented a Slack domain for nearly the entire student body, creating a digital space where diverse students from across California can connect, socialize, and form study groups.
Keeping Struggling Students On Track
One of the hardest struggles community colleges face is student persistence: keeping students who have enrolled on track in their education and moving from their initial term to the next. This is especially true for students from traditionally disenfranchised populations and older students who are often juggling work and raising a family, or caring for loved ones.
In the fall of 2022, Calbright launched a new initiative to connect with students who have gone through periods of inactivity in our online courses. The results have been significant.
- In September, 42% of students who had not engaged in their program for two to four weeks re-engaged with their studies following outreach from Calbright’s counseling faculty.
- In October, 52% re-engaged
- And in November, 45% of students who had no academic activity in the past 14-29 days re-engaged, and 35% with no learning management system activity in 30-45 days re-engaged.
We are incredibly proud of these results, not only because they make a real difference in the lives of individual students but because they point a way forward to better serving more students. They show that we can successfully re-imagine college and make it work for a more diverse population than it ever has before.
That’s what Calbright accomplished in 2022.