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Why Students Come to Calbright


Calbright offers a unique model of education – one that provides flexibility and programs focused on workforce development, which is critical amidst continued economic uncertainty we see across California.  Our enrollment has more than tripled during a period in which the California Community Colleges system experienced a decline of 300,000 students, with few signs of stabilization or recovery. Beginning in late 2021, we added a question to our admissions application: ”Why are you interested in enrolling at Calbright?” 

Here’s what they said.

  • 88% of students said that our fully online programs were easier for them to access;
  • 74.3% said it was the skills-based job training Calbright offers which made it a good fit.
    • Calbright doesn’t offer traditional degrees, we offer certificate programs in highly sought after technical skills which can be earned in less than a year;
  • Just over 60% said that it’s because Calbright’s programs are affordable;
  • Finally, over 35% of students said that their responsibilities as caregivers or parents made a traditional college’s schedule impossible – even online. They needed something more flexible.


The online revolution in education is important, but as we’ve said again and again:  not all “online” colleges are the same and “online” doesn’t always mean accessible. It matters what model of online education a college uses. It matters who their intended students are, and how they meet their needs. All too often, colleges that “go online” end up making life easier for the students they were already serving well, and offer very little to the students who need extra support.

Calbright is an online college that is specifically designed for California’s “stranded workers” – non-traditional students, often older, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, who are already working, taking care of their families, and/or struggling with the stress of unemployment. People who need a formal credential to get ahead, but who don’t have the resources or the flexibility to attend a traditional college or other forms of vocational training.

That’s why we’re online, yes, but it’s also why we use Competency-Based Education; it’s why we’re career focused and designed around our students’ needs; it’s why we’re currently free; it’s why we are always looking for ways to be more flexible and to focus on educational equity. Because that’s what best supports the population we serve, 90% of whom are over 25, 70% of whom identify as BIPOC.

Students who are well served by traditional colleges still have an amazing array of options. Many students who need a new kind of college are telling us that they’re well served by Calbright.

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