The state of California founded Calbright College in late 2018, and the founding legislation sets out clear benchmarks and timelines for the College to achieve. Each year, Calbright sends the state legislature a report detailing our progress toward meeting (and oftentimes exceeding!) those milestones.
Calbright’s 2022-2023 Milestone Report was submitted to the state legislature on July 31, 2023, and this is the first in a series of articles examining Calbright’s accomplishments and where we’re going next.
For the fifth year in a row, Calbright has met or exceeded every benchmark the state legislature has given us. These goals include:
- To design and validate at least 10 additional program pathways, for a total of 16. For every 10 program pathways, at least one must be developed in collaboration with a traditional California Community College.
By the end of the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Calbright had designed and validated 17 new program pathways.
In addition to the College’s active programs—CRM Platform Administration, Cybersecurity, and IT Support—Data Analysis, which completed a pilot in the spring of 2023, will open to all Californians on September 13, 2023. Further, the Data Analysis program was developed in concert with Bakersfield Community College, and will serve as a pre-apprenticeship conduit for Bakersfield’s 12-month paid Data Analyst apprenticeship program.
Other programs that the College has designed, validated, and received Board of Trustee approval for include: : Entrepreneurship; Full-Stack Software Developer; Human Resources: Learning and Development; Human Resources: Talent Acquisition; Licensed Vocational Nurse; Medical Billing; Medical Coding; Networks+; Project Management; Upskilling for Equitable Health Impacts: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Upskilling for Equitable Health Impacts: Interpersonal Skills for Healthcare Workers; User Experience/User Interface; and 3D Animation and Game Design.
- To enroll students into the program pathways
While Calbright is open to all Californians, we are specifically charged with supporting adults whose life circumstances put traditional college out of reach – whether that’s because of where they live, their work schedules, the cost of college, the need to care for children or parents, or anything else. We are designed to support them.
The need is great. Adult learners left the CCC system at high rates during the pandemic, and only 36% of CCC students are 25 years or older, a significant decrease from before the pandemic.
Calbright is serving those students: over 90% of our students are at least 25 years of age. And we’re enrolling more of them. During the last fiscal year, Calbright’s enrollment grew by 167%, and we currently have over 3,200 students. Considering that we were founded near the end of 2018, and first enrolled our small beta cohort in 2019, and then experienced a pandemic, that’s astonishingly fast growth in higher education.
- Adopt an effective process for developing new programs that will benefit and provide job market value to its target population and secure a pathway to employment for students
Calbright has developed a process to track the needs of employers in California and offer training that prepares students to step in and succeed at upwardly mobile jobs that companies are looking to fill.
This includes tracking business and labor data, working directly with employers and industry groups to establish the skills and credentials that they look for in hiring, interviewing employees to learn what skills actually help them succeed in their jobs, and then designing Calbright’s programs to focus on these areas. In a recent alumni survey, more than 70% of graduates noted that they experienced a positive impact on their employment within a year of completing their Calbright coursework.
Additionally, Calbright provides students with free career support with every aspect of their job hunt. That means Calbright students have access to:
- Networking events with employer representatives and industry professionals
- Resume and cover letter reviews
- Practice interview sessions
- LinkedIn profile-building expertise
- Virtual employer panels
- Job and interview search support
4. Incorporate student feedback to improve the college’s instruction, technology, and student support services.
Calbright students have regular touchpoints with members of the college’s administration, where they can offer feedback that is rapidly iterated upon to improve the systems, often in real time. However, Calbright has also implemented several surveys which are offered at key moments through a student’s journey, including an End-of-Term Survey, an Alumni Survey, and an annual Student Experience Survey. These surveys are used to help identify areas for improvement, and act on them.
Calbright also launched a student body organization in early 2023. The Calbright Student Body Organization provides a formal process for students to independently express their priorities to the administration and ensures that they are represented within the California Community College System.
Exceeding Expectations, and Supporting Students
In addition to meeting all of the legislative requirements set out for Calbright in the past year, Calbright has also achieved a major milestone by earning accreditation in late July 2023 – a year-and-a-half ahead of the schedule set out by its founding legislation.
Calbright “demonstrated its commitment to educational standards and ethical business practices that assure quality, accountability, and improvement in higher education,” according to a statement from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, Calbright’s accrediting body.