Dec 17, 2021 - News

New strategy for Tennessee community colleges

The logo of the college system of Tennessee
Image courtesy of the Tennessee Board of Regents

Tennessee community colleges are looking to stave off pandemic-era enrollment struggles with compressed, half-semester courses.

  • Officials at the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees the state's 13 community colleges, think the classes could have blunted some of the decline this fall.

Why it matters: Accelerated courses are in a pilot phase and trickling out across the community colleges. They could preview a broader trend of squeezing two rounds of courses into one semester.

  • "It dramatically increases the flexibility for our students," TBR executive vice chancellor Russ Deaton tells Axios.

By the numbers: Early data suggested community college enrollment fell by nearly 10% this fall, Deaton says.

  • But once leaders factored in a round of accelerated courses that started in October, the drop turned out to be closer to 6-7%.

What they're saying: Deaton says TBR will be studying student interest and success over the next year to guide expansion decisions.

  • "It's a good long-term strategy that we hope to learn a lot more about."

Yes, but: Deaton says folding a full semester's worth of work into seven weeks wouldn't be a good fit for every student or course.

What's next: A spokesperson for Nashville State Community College tells Axios the college plans to begin expanding its accelerated course offerings next fall.

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