The Community College Mission

Many of you have heard me “preach the gospel” of the community college mission. You know that I believe in who we are and who we serve. We are an open access institution and we serve all comers. We serve high school students who are getting a jump on college. We serve students who need to learn basic English. We serve students who want to pass the GED or earn a short-term credential that brings them a living wage job. We serve students who want to be welders, video game designers, published authors, sociologists, social workers, teachers, personal trainers, engineers, chemists, and nurses. And we serve students who don’t know what their pathway might be.

Two articles in Inside Higher Ed remind us of the power of our mission. This first article tells us the story of a community college professor and what she learned about her college when her son became a student. It is a powerful testament to the work that we do every day as well as to the power of patience and flexibility.

This second article tells us how the community college mission has changed in the last twenty years. You’ll see ACC’s experience in this article – as noted in the article, ACC’s dual enrollment program has moved from serving the privileged to driving equity by “widening the funnel”. In other words, we help students find their pathway to the blessings of a college education, whether those blessings are economic, social, familial, or personal. In the current Fall semester, 7,374 of our duplicated headcount was high school students – that’s roughly 21% of our total student population.

In addition to being an equity driver, dual credit can serve as a bridge for those high school students to continue their education with us rather than stopping out or starting over elsewhere. Roughly 25% of our dual credit students continue their education with us after high school. Our dual enrollment programs (dual credit, Early College High Schools, P-TECHs [Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools], and Career Academies) offer multiple options for students and support economic and social mobility in Central Texas.

Let’s celebrate who we are and who we serve. As we celebrate a day of giving thanks, I give thanks for all my friends and colleagues around ACC who believe in our mission and who help make it a reality each and every day. Thank you.

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