Goal setting towards planning for the future. Silhouettes of group businessmen holding target boards with flags planted on a mountain. Concept of a clear planning process and teamwork.

Three Years Later, Look What Calbright Has Accomplished

In the spring of 2021, Calbright announced a new Strategic Vision, a commitment to go from a small, statewide online college with just a single beta cohort of students to a leading edge institution creating a new approach for adult higher education.

It wasn’t just our commitment, it was our legislative mandate – to bridge the gap between higher education and adult learners.

Now, just over three years later, Calbright has made leaps and bounds of progress on its first vision and is now in a new phase of development, with a new Strategic Vision which runs through 2027. We begin this process as a much different institution, one that has earned the support and confidence of our stakeholders and students.

College Designed For Working Adults

Three years ago, at the beginning of its first Strategic Vision, Calbright served a student body of 481

Today, we serve over 4,500, and climbing. 

Three years ago, at the end of June 2021, Calbright had awarded only 65 certificates of completion. Today, at the end of June 2024, we have awarded more than 700.

Our students are far more diverse than those of any conventional college, and are traditionally underserved by higher education: 

  • 79% of Calbright students identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color
  • 90% of our students are 25 or older, with the a median age in the late 30s
  • 32% of our students are parents or caregivers (compared with approximately 10% in the California Community Colleges system)
  • 40% of our students are currency unemployed, 31% are displaced workers, and 7% are working two or more jobs

Three years ago, we were a new institution, paving the way by ourselves.  Today, we have academic and research partnerships with institutions including UC Irvine, the U.S. Department of Education, Bakersfield College, and Lightcast, a leading researcher in labor market analytics, among others. Through these partnerships, and our own research department, we have issued a vital report on public sector hiring, developed new best practices for enhancing student persistence, demonstrated how higher education can be more inclusive of diverse populations, established a cutting edge “playbook” for online Competency-Based Education, and are even sponsoring a Tools Competition track for the development of new education technologies that will better support online education for working adults. 

Redefining Online Job Training

In this new period, Calbright will build on its many successes – more students, more programs, more graduates – while it continues to drive its mission forward and address the barriers facing adult learners. 

Calbright’s success is proof that higher education can innovate, can change, and can be of service to a greater number and variety of people, supporting their needs and careers. Survey after survey shows two things:  that higher education has never been more important for a good career, and that potential students have never been more wary about the risks of going to college. Calbright has shown that by reimagining college with a student centered approach, it is possible to create an approach to higher education that embraces those rewards while reducing the risks.  

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