Made possible through a collaboration with the John M. Belk Endowment, NC Reconnect aims to engage adult learners and improve student retention – specifically among adult learners – in North Carolina. The initiative is designed to help former students successfully navigate the complexities of re-enrollment and re-entry, while developing a plan to complete a degree or credential.
After launching in 2021 with five pilot schools – Pitt Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, Durham Technical Community College, and Vance-Granville Community College – Belk Center researchers began compiling and analyzing data on adult students’ re-enrollment and retention from the participating colleges.
Building off of this initial data, the Belk Center and partners InsideTrack, VisionPoint and EducationNC, hosted interviews and focus groups with community college leadership, faculty, staff and adult learners to gain insight into the leadership decisions of executives, day-to-day operations of student services staff and lived experiences of adult learners. From this work, in 2023 the Belk Center released the second edition Adult Learner Guidebook that offers tangible strategies and key insights on reimagining postsecondary education for adult learners at North Carolina community colleges.
As of 2021, adult learners aged 25-64 represent 52% of North Carolina’s community college student population.
In 2022, a second cohort was announced, including Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Central Carolina Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Lenoir Community College and Wilkes Community College. In the year ahead, NC Reconnect will continue to expand with the support of the John M. Belk Endowment, the Belk Center, the North Carolina Community College System, myFutureNC, InsideTrack, Crisp Communications and VisionPoint Marketing.
12,000 students identified
Number identified by the five pilot schools who had previously attended, completed at least 50% of a degree or credential and had been enrolled within the last five years.
753 of those students re-enrolled
These students re-enrolled at one of the five pilot colleges for the fall 2021 semester.