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New PACCE initiative scaling innovative approaches to adult learner enrollment

News & Updates
January 11, 2022

COVID-19 has brought additional challenges for colleges seeking to serve adults in their communities. Nationally, community colleges have seen their overall enrollment this year drop 14.8 percent since 2019. In the last two years, enrollment of students aged 25–29 has dropped 17.5 percent, while among those older than 29, enrollment is down 12.1 percent.

ATD’s recently announced Prioritizing Adult Community College Enrollment (PACCE) initiative is designed to address this deepening enrollment challenge. Along with five partner organizations, ATD will support 20 community colleges in eight states* in scaling promising strategies for increasing the enrollment and reenrollment of adult students — particularly Black and Latinx students — in high-quality credit and/or non-credit programs.

Strategies being scaled

The 20 PACCE colleges collectively serve over 250,000 students, with individual institutions ranging in size from 1,000 to 35,000 students served annually. The colleges represent rural, suburban, and urban communities facing different local and regional employment environments. As such, the strategies being scaled to increase adult learner enrollment look different based on each institution’s context. Broadly, however, the strategies fall into one of the following categories: Marketing, process redesign, outreach, student supports, instruction delivery methods, communications, non-credit to credit bridges.

Strategies include:

  • A large urban Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) is expanding the use of their customer relationship management (CRM) and Chatbot technologies to enhance communications and outreach to students enrolled in adult education classes to promote enrollment in degree and certificate programs.
  • A small rural college is meeting students where they are physically by expanding the number of Hyflex (hybrid flexible) locations that offer classes within the community and/or online focused on training in advanced manufacturing, health care and education.
  • A mid-sized suburban college is building a structure for an outreach and marketing campaign to recruit the parents of the college’s first-generation students of color as well as their GED students.
  • A small rural college is seeking to expand the services offered at community partner sites and increase the number of sites offering enrollment supports in communities of color within their service area.
  • A large urban HSI is scaling the program that co-enrolls students in contextualized GED programs and industry-recognized certification programs by turning the in-person contextualized GED curriculum into an online format so they can reach deeper into the communities they serve.
  • A small rural college is planning to enhance and expand their marketing and outreach efforts, with a focus on reaching adults who identify as Hispanic or Latinx. The college’s new department of External Partnerships and Applied Learning is leading the effort to coordinate outreach efforts with community partners.

To learn more about the strategies being scaled across the 20 colleges, contact Julia Lawton at [email protected].

Join us at DREAM 2022 to learn more about enrolling and supporting the success of adult learners.

*The 20 community colleges selected to participate in PACCE were announced in Dec 2021 and are listed on the PACCE webpage.

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