Pueblo Group Faculty desires to teach extra older adults

Colorado’s group schools have struggled to enroll older adults for the reason that begin of the pandemic, however a number of faculties have been in a position to work in opposition to that development by serving to them with their busy lives.

For instance, Pueblo Group Faculty leaders have discovered methods to cater to and start to draw older college students, or those that aren’t latest highschool graduates. The college has leaned into utilizing distant studying, creating versatile class schedules, and providing extra youngster care choices to assist older adults.

These adjustments have made it simpler for older college students to see themselves on campus, state and faculty leaders say, whereas additionally specializing in the rising demand amongst excessive schoolers collaborating in concurrent enrollment — a program supplied to highschool college students to take school degree programs and even earn an affiliate’s diploma.

“We’ve tried to have a look at the entire pupil and make it possible for they’ve the monetary sources that they want, but in addition all the assist providers that they must be profitable,” stated Patricia Erjavec, Pueblo Group Faculty president.

General, the state’s group schools, as of the tip of September, are educating 8.5% extra college students over final 12 months, or about 84,000 college students, up from 78,274 on the similar time final 12 months.

Group school enrollment stays beneath 2019 ranges, however concurrent enrollment has helped scale back the losses within the final couple years.

Statewide, concurrent enrollment has elevated by 18.5% over final 12 months, or a rise of 5,651 college students. On common, most highschool college students enrolled in this system solely take a pair programs.

Diploma-seeking pupil enrollment on the state’s 13 schools different this 12 months. College students in search of a level elevated by 2% over final 12 months, or about 1,000 college students. 

Diploma-seeking college students embody people who have simply graduated from highschool and college students who’re going to school after taking a break from college. The state has struggled to get the second group, particularly college students ages 21-39, to enroll.

The slower rebound in older adults enrolling statewide can seemingly be attributed to the state’s financial system, stated Landon Pirius, vice chancellor of educational and pupil affairs of the faculty system. 

Older college students are likely to enroll at increased charges throughout financial downturns to get job coaching that opens up jobs with increased pay. However Colorado has a robust job market, with one job for each two residents. 

But, a number of the most in-demand jobs require a university training and the state has created new free school coaching packages in fields corresponding to well being care, legislation enforcement, firefighting, building, and educating. It’s unclear simply how a lot these packages have elevated enrollment amongst older grownup college students as a result of a lot of the free coaching packages are newer.

The state should proceed to cater to adults by means of versatile class schedules and assist that takes into consideration that many adults come to school with payments to pay and households to assist, Pirius stated. 

“I believe we are able to get there, however I believe our programs at the moment aren’t set as much as assist grownup college students in addition to they’re college students who’re straight out of highschool,” he stated.

Pueblo Group Faculty has to this point elevated concurrent enrollment numbers by 30% this 12 months over final 12 months, second solely to Crimson Rocks Group Faculty. 

Erjavec stated the varsity has expanded what it presents to highschool college students.

The college has a brand new legislation academy and enrolled extra prison justice college students. Pueblo Group Faculty additionally began a Friday academy, the place concurrent enrollment college students come to the varsity each week. They get to see what it’s like in school, Erjavec stated, and assist unfold the phrase about the advantages of concurrent enrollment.

Diploma-seeking pupil enrollment amongst older college students has elevated by 3.5% over final 12 months. Faculties corresponding to Pikes Peak, Entrance Vary, and the Group Faculty of Denver even have boosted enrollment.

Erjavec stated the area’s financial system is likely to be enjoying into why it’s seeing curiosity from older adults. Pueblo has lagged behind the remainder of the state in financial progress as a producing metropolis that’s skilled a shrinking of business in recent times. 

Due to the realm’s financial system, extra college students is likely to be on the lookout for new alternatives by means of going to school, Erjavec stated.

Her objective is to make it simpler for adults to be on campus or take courses. 

“We serve a really low socioeconomic, rural space,” Erjavec stated. “I at all times inform my staff we get one likelihood to make it possible for the scholars get one of the best educational expertise they will.”

To date, adjustments have come with out massive monetary investments, Erjavec stated. 

The college has relied extra on bolstering its distant or hybrid studying choices, which particularly helps adults who can’t at all times be on campus due to work or household obligations, she stated. 

College officers are also occupied with find out how to present assist or educational providers outdoors of regular college hours.

And the varsity additionally has a brand new youngster care heart at its St. Mary’s-Corwin campus, and he or she hopes to develop on-campus youngster care choices. The objective is to make college students snug on campus and construct belief that the faculty can work for them, she stated.

“I believe we’ve got an excellent popularity,” Erjavec stated. “College students know that and so they depend on that once they enroll with us.”

Jason Gonzales is a reporter overlaying increased training and the Colorado legislature. Chalkbeat Colorado companions with Open Campus on increased training protection. Contact Jason at jgonzales@chalkbeat.org.

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