Last updated: July 14. 2014 10:45AM - 616 Views
Dennis Watts | Robeson Community College

Dennis Watts
Dennis Watts
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In some ways, an educational institution is like a business with students and the community at large as customers. In today’s varied and rapidly changing society such an institution must “target” market segments. Robeson Community College recently began two initiatives with that purpose in mind. Doing so will benefit the college, the “target” customers, and the community as a whole.

The first initiative on the calendar will begin on Thursday when the college hosts an open house event for prospective Latino students. This initiative was the brainchild of the staff of the North Carolina Advanced Manufacturing Alliance on our campus, but prospective students will be able to get information about all of the program offerings at Robeson Community College.

Census data from the early to mid-1990s estimated that there were approximately 700 Latinos in Robeson County. A Latino minister serving a Spanish-speaking church in the county at the time told me that census data probably accounted for only half of the Spanish-speaking individuals actually living here then. Anyone living in Robeson County knows that those numbers have grown exponentially over the past 20 years, yet Latino students are underrepresented at Robeson Community College when compared to the general population of the county. Thursday’s open house will hopefully lead to changes in those statistics.

If you know of individuals who might benefit from Thursday’s event, please inform them and encourage them to attend. For information about the event, contact Nuri Collado by email at ncollado@robeson.edu or by phone at 910-272-3462. The Robeson Community College Facebook page also contains information about the event in both English and Spanish.

Another market segment that Robeson Community College will try to better serve this fall are honors students. Several years ago I heard radio humorist Garrison Keillor refer to community colleges as “warmed over high school.” While I appreciate Keillor’s humor, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, according to a recent article on the American Association of Community College’s ccdaily website, almost half of all undergraduates attend community college at some point in their career, including 33 percent of medical school applicants in 2012.

Recently, Robeson Community College alumni have graduated from engineering school at North Carolina State University, pharmacy school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, physician’s assistant school at Methodist University, and a couple have earned master’s degrees at N.C. State and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

In attempt to better serve this segment of the market, Robeson Community College is starting an Honors College program this fall. Instructors Daniela Newland and Gaylyn Eddy researched two-year colleges with honors components extensively during the planning of the program and will serve as its co-directors.

The most significant benefit of attending a community college is the obvious cost savings. Tuition at any of the 58 community colleges in the state is less than half of tuition cost at the least expensive state universities, which are considerably less expensive than private colleges.

Full-time curriculum instructors who teach college transfer courses at Robeson Community College are mandated by accrediting organizations to have earned at least a master’s degree in their respective fields. We have instructors from across the country and from around the world. Our staff is engaged in continual professional development. Students can get a great start on their four-year degree here at Robeson Community College at a fraction of the cost.

Students can expect the same level of rigor and quality of teaching in transfer courses at the community college as they would at a four-year university. Community college instructors recognize that many of their students will transfer and thus strive to prepare them for the demands of a four-year university.

With the use of computers, the state is able to track transfer students and to evaluate each of the 58 community colleges on how well their transfer students fare after transferring. For the 2011-12 school year, 86 percent of the Robeson Community College students who had earned 30 or more community college credits and transferred to a four-year state school earned a GPA of 2.0 or better in the two consecutive semesters after transferring.

Students who take Honors College courses can expect small classes taught by selectively recruited faculty. These students will be part of a unique learning community that fosters excellence and will be eligible for exclusive academic scholarships and cultural enrichment activities.

Students who are interested in the Honors College program at Robeson Community College can find information on our website at www.robeson.edu/honors, or they can contact the director of the program, Daniela Newland, by email at dnewland@robeson.edu, or by phone at 910-272-3394.

Dennis Watts is the public information officer at Robeson Community College. If you have questions about RCC or suggestions for future articles, he can be reached at dwatts@robeson.edu.

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