Resource: A More Unified Community College
Strategies and Resources to Align Non-Credit and Credit Programs
Community colleges have long held dual missions of preparing workers in their local communities and preparing students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs at four-year institutions. However, as community colleges developed, these two missions diverged into separate tracks, with one focusing on non-credit workforce training, and the other focusing on degrees and transfer. While each mission is important to sustain, it has resulted in a bifurcated institutional structure that does not equitably serve and prepare all students for workforce opportunities and career advancement.
A More Unified Community College: Strategies and Resources to Align Non-Credit and Credit Programs is a compilation of research, strategies, and examples of success in the field to support community colleges in pursuit of more equitable student experiences and outcomes. This new resource contains:
- Background on the critical importance of aligning credit and non-credit programming at community colleges
- A new framework that systems and institutions can use to facilitate alignment
- Four different starting points for institutions to begin implementing the framework, each accompanied by a case study highlighting this work in action
- Three distinct Getting Started Guides for institutions and systems; states; and administrators, faculty, and staff
Download the full report along with standalone case studies, Getting Started Guides, and an executive summary below.
A New Framework for Alignment
A more unified community college can be achieved, but it requires a new framework to guide institutions as they address the many barriers of this bifurcated system. It demands a new way of thinking about alignment. This framework offers five key tenets to achieve alignment, all of which must be implemented in order to realize this vision.
Starting Points: Case Studies
Each institution and system has their own unique context and culture within which they operate. Therefore, there is not one singular way to embark on implementing the new framework for alignment. Four different Starting Points are outlined below, each illustrated by case study that provides insight into how specific institutions and systems have pursued alignment.
- Removing the Structural Divide (Prince George’s Community College)
- Developing Bridge Tools to Award Credit (Salt Lake Community College)
- Making Industry-Focused Programs Credit-Based (The Kentucky Community and Technical College System)
- Reorienting for Demand-Driven Pathways (Monroe Community College)
Getting Started Guides
Institutions, systems, states, and stakeholders, whether new to this work or continuing to the next phase, can align and integrate colleges’ non-credit and credit programs by following the Getting Started Guides for implementation, which include key recommendations and supporting resources for different groups.