March 14, 2023 – Calbright College began the month of March by reaching the enrollment milestone of a 2,000 person student body. The College, which opened in October 2019, has now experienced nearly two years of sustained growth while it builds a new model of education within the California Community Colleges (CCC) system.
Consistent with its legislative mandate, Calbright continues to enroll a statewide student body of working-aged Californians. 92% of the College’s student body is at least 25 years old, more than double the CCC system-wide rate. They call 46 of California’s 58 counties home, and one-third of students are parents/caregivers, triple the CCC system-wide rate.
“Calbright’s continued growth highlights the importance of putting students at the center of our design. Our learners are advancing their studies and skills while managing a schedule that includes working, raising a family, and navigating an ongoing global pandemic and rapidly evolving labor market,” said Ajita Talwalker Menon, Calbright president and CEO. “In recent years, non-traditional students have left community colleges at some of the highest rates. Further, here in California and nationally, we see that roughly 5% of adult learners complete their certificate program in three years. These are shared challenges for higher education and Calbright’s role as the leading edge of the learning curve is critical to identifying solutions for the complex equation of supporting non-traditional students.”
Calbright’s model allows for enrollment to be tracked in close to real time. As of March 13, 2023, the College’s enrollment stood at 2,077.
Introduction to IT Support and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform Administration are currently the College’s two largest programs. CRM launched to the public in the fall of 2021 and has grown to an enrollment of 422 students. IT Support launched in October 2019—one of the College’s original programs—and has an enrollment of 1,416.
Building a new college from the ground up takes time, which is why Calbright’s founding legislation outlines a seven-year start-up period to build necessary infrastructure. While there aren’t perfect comparisons to Calbright within higher education, Western Governors University can provide some context for the time necessary to establish a new institution. When WGU opened its doors in 1999, initial enrollment was 150 students. Today, it stands at roughly 130,000. At the end of its third year, WGU had conferred four degrees. Today, they have roughly 300,000 graduates.
Growth in completion numbers
In addition to increasing enrollment by 325% since July 2021, Calbright more than doubled the number of certificates awarded in 2022 (110 certificates awarded during the calendar year) compared to 2021 (43). In January 2023, the College conferred its 200th certificate and the total number of certificates awarded, as of March 13, 2023, stands at 226. Programs are designed to be flexible and fit students’ schedules. While time to completion has decreased as Calbright iterates and improves, the College’s programs, by design, are flexible. Some learners may finish in as little as six months while others can take a year or longer.
“Nearly nine out of ten Calbright students cite our model as the reason they were able to access their program and enroll. Our holistic approach to student support is rooted in the needs of our students and the power of connection and community,” said Ted Lai, vice president for student services and success. “As we grow, we continue to build outreach and support methods that meet students where they are to nurture persistence and success and empower them in the next chapter of their lives. More than doubling the number of certificates awarded in 2022, compared to 2021, shows the efficacy of the model we’ve built, and it also serves as the foundation upon which we can continue to build, iterate, and improve.”
Calbright’s Introduction to IT Support and CRM programs, as the College’s largest programs, also have the highest number of graduates, with 88 IT certificates and 70 CRM.
Statewide and diverse student body
Calbright’s student body reflects California’s diversity – more than 70% of students identify as a member of the BIPOC community. As of December 31, 2022 (demographic data is updated quarterly), 17% of students identify as Asian, 20.4% as Black, 30.1% as Hispanic, and 9.5% as Native American/Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander.
Across the College, 24% of students reside in Los Angeles County, 16% in the Inland Empire, 9% in Sacramento County, 7% in San Diego County, 5% in Orange County, and the remainder in counties like Fresno and Solano. 28 of the state’s 40 rural counties are represented in Calbright’s student body.
In addition, while employment in fields like Information Technology and CRM platform administration lack gender parity, the College’s enrollment is roughly 48% male and 47% female. Further, 69.5% of students in the College’s CRM (Salesforce) Administration program identify as female.