Can Noncredit Education Increase Our Enrollment?

By Kathy Jasper, EVC Adjunct ESL Faculty

Kathy Jasper at the CFT Convention. Photo by Barbara Hanfling.

As enrollment decreases in our colleges, the District is looking for ways to attract new students. One way to do that is to create “bridge” classes to bridge the gap for students who are not quite ready for college level credit classes. The hope is the students would take these free classes and then continue on through our credit program.

Many of these students would come from one of the five adult education program in our South Bay Consortium for Adult Education (SBCAE). As part of this consortium, San Jose-Evergreen gets $1,526,235 annually for the three years beginning in 2015-16 to work with members of the consortium and create these classes.

When Kishan Vujjeni of the Workforce Development Institute came to our Evergreen English Division and ESL Department meetings to propose switching some credit classes to Noncredit and adding new Noncredit classes, he was met with a barrage of questions and concerns. The questions were: Would these teachers need to have master’s degrees like the other credit faculty? Would Noncredit instructors get paid the same as credit faculty? Would the Noncredit classes take students away from the credit program?

Because of a change in California law as of 2015-2016, districts get reimbursed at the same rate for most Noncredit classes as they do for credit classes, so last year the District agreed to pay and load Noncredit instructors at the same rate as credit instructors. It is thought that because the classes are free, college would be accessible to more students.

How Is That Money Being Used?

Evergreen is offering a bridge to engineering program, which includes four Noncredit engineering related classes, a bridge to surveying/Geomatics program, also four classes and English for automotive technology class. There is a committee of ESL teachers who will be working over the summer to develop curriculum to add four to eight new Noncredit ESL classes that would bridge to our credit ESL program.

San Jose City College will offer 12 Noncredit ESL classes in the fall. In career technical education, SJCC is also offering a very popular bridge to medical careers program, which includes four classes.

The District has used the money to create several new positions. It has hired an Associate Dean of Noncredit Adult Education and Basic Skills, Julie Vo, at Evergreen. The District is looking for a Dean of Noncredit at San Jose City College.

There are two new transition specialists, Gina Riccitelli at Evergreen and Maura Esquivel-Lozano at San Jose City College, whose jobs are to provide a “warm handoff” from the adult school to community college. Evergreen also hired Ali Arid for instructional support, Teneka Cornish as a staff assistant and Andrew Nguyen for marketing and outreach.

This money is being used to send instructors to professional development opportunities, send instructors to regular meetings of the consortium, and for faculty working together on collaborative projects between South Bay Consortium for Adult Education members.

Free classes will attract students who may have thought community college was financially out of reach. Bridge classes will attract lower level students who thought they were not college material. Hopefully, these programs attract students and increase our enrollment.