North Carolina community colleges step up efforts to re-enroll adult learners with some colleges, without a degree

InsideTrack, a national nonprofit organization, will work with ten North Carolina community colleges to help adult learners return to higher education; 750+ students re-enrolled in 2021

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, July 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The NC Reconnect initiative, a coalition of North Carolina higher education organizations and community colleges, announced the results of the first year of an ambitious statewide initiative focused on deploying student success coaches to help former students who quit to re-enroll in higher education. Building on the results of its successful first year, the program will expand to serve a cohort of five additional community and technical colleges across the state: Caldwell Community College, Central Carolina Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Lenoir Community Collegeand Wilkes Community College.

“For adult learners, returning to higher education can be a very complex and deeply personal decision that we too often oversimplify. Instead, we need to create a personalized journey for adult learner re-engagement that considers the student as a whole and his individual needs – financially, educationally and professionally,” said Dr. Laurent Roussepresident of Pitt Community College. “These findings demonstrate that coaching is a powerful resource that can help meet both the complex needs of returning students and open pathways for academic and career advancement for adult learners.”

NC Reconnect was launched in 2021, in conjunction with student coaching nonprofit InsideTrack and with generous funding from John M. Belk Endowment and Strada Educational Network—with the aim of rehiring up to 12,000 North Carolina adult learners. Whereas North Carolina has made progress toward its ambitious goal of 66% for adults aged 25-44 by 2030, currently only 52.1% of residents have completed a post-secondary degree or certificate. In North Carolina alone there is more than one million adults with some college, but no degree or credential, of which 33.8% are under 35 and 53.5% are between 35 and 64 years old.

The results of the first year of the program were very promising. Participating campuses have already successfully re-enrolled 753 interrupted students, 68% of whom have either graduated or graduated or persisted to the next term.

The coaching engagement began in 2021 through an initial pilot program with five North Carolina community colleges: Pitt Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Vance-Granville Community Collegeand Durham Technical Community College. With the addition of the second cohort, a total of ten Tarheel State community colleges will work with inside track to help former students navigate the complexities of re-enrollment, reintegrate into their virtual and physical campuses, and develop a plan to complete their studies.

“Over the next decade, the state is expected to lack the skilled labor needed to sustain a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse state economy,” said MC Belk Pilon, President and Chairman of the John M. Belk Endowment Board of Trustees. “Community colleges are central to our workforce development strategy because they are uniquely positioned to help reach over one million North Carolina college-educated and non-degree-educated. NC Reconnect does not only generates results: it provides insights that will improve our understanding of how to foster re-enrollment at scale.”

Studies continue to show that North Carolina Community colleges generate a powerful return on investment, both for individual students and for the broader state economy. A recent lightcase analysis found that North Carolinas who graduate with an associate’s degree over a high school diploma will earn projection $255,000 additional income during their working life. Every year, North Carolina community colleges also offer an impressive $19 billion positive impact on the state economy.

The NC Reconnect effort has received support from statewide higher education groups such as the North Carolina Community College System Office, the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, the University of North Carolina System Office and MyFutureNC, a non-profit college access organization that focuses on reaching North Carolina academic achievement goal of 2 million high-quality post-secondary credentials or degrees by 2030.

“At a time when returning students and adult learners continue to navigate economic uncertainty, community and technical colleges can provide affordable and effective pathways to better jobs and better skills,” said Carrie Lockhert, associate vice president of partner success at InsideTrack. “This work uncovers new insights into barriers to student re-engagement that will help community colleges across the state better reach and meet the needs of adult learners.”

Participating colleges are currently in the process of re-enrolling students to begin in the Fall 2022 term.

About InsideTrack: InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their educational and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.6 million learners, partnering with more than 250 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and backed by research, with proven results for every type of learner – from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person – including students first generation and those who face systemic barriers to post-secondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services – designed to support internal progress for lasting and scalable impact. InsideTrack is part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven non-profit organization. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter @Inside track and LinkedIn @Inside track.

About the John M. Belk Endowment: Situated at Charlotte, North CarolinaThe John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming post-secondary education opportunities to meet North Carolina changing labor needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and served as CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. He established the John M. Belk Endowment in 1995 to fund a national merit-based scholarship program for his beloved alma mater, Davidson College.

Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment staff and board continue to partner with innovative, results-driven programs in North Carolina to promote the values ​​and legacy of Mr. Belk and to emphasize the value of education as a means of personal growth and community vitality. For more information, please visit

About Strada Education Network: Strada Education Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people enjoy the education and training after high school that helps them find good jobs, do meaningful work, and lead fulfilling lives. We believe education and training after high school has the potential to be the most powerful and equitable ways to help all people thrive in their careers and in their lives. To help students succeed beyond obtaining a certificate or degree, we conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and support Strada Collaborative, which directly serves students and the workers. Learn more about

SOURCE InsideTrack

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