LERN to Save C.E. – Again

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Walking bridge HP cropLERN Leaders meeting in Chicago this spring approved of a LERN campaign for c.e. units in higher education to document what percentage of their noncredit students later enroll in a credit or degree program at their institution. The effort also can be applied to documenting the value of community education in public schools and recreation programs in parks departments.

The financial implications are huge for this relatively unknown and unmeasured contribution of your c.e. unit to the academic side of your institution.  Some c.e. programs, ostensibly “losing” money on a direct break even basis, are actually hugely profitable when subsequent credit and degree tuition and enrollments are taken into account.A few c.e. units have actually measured their contributions to the credit and degree side of the house, and the dollars are considerable and impressive.

A few c.e. units have actually measured their contributions to the credit and degree side of the house, and the dollars are considerable and impressive.From 5% to a whopping 13% of noncredit students later enroll in a credit or degree program.

From 5% to a whopping 13% of noncredit students later enroll in a credit or degree program.

Impressive Dollar Figures
At least three LERN member c.e. units are reporting significantly higher percentages and thus dollar contributions.  Kim Becicka of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reports that 13% of their noncredit students later enroll in a credit or degree program.  Westmoreland Community College in Pennsylvania is also reporting around 13% of their noncredit students later enrolling in credit and degree programs.

Joseph Cassidy, head of continuing education at the College of DuPage in DuPage, Illinois, reports a similarly high percentage of around 12%.  Cassidy and college officials then calculated the tuition and state aid resulting from those credit enrollments and came up with a staggering $26 million over the past 4.5 years.

Cassidy and Becicka will present a session on this topic at the big LERN Annual Conference in Portland, OR, November 15-18, 2017.

C.E. Survival Issue
With continuing education being squeezed financially and under-the-microscope for every financial loss, the credit contribution of your noncredit classes is now an essential data documentation issue for every continuing education unit, LERN is reporting.  According to our records, a number of c.e. units are being merged, downsized or outright eliminated in higher education, without the valuable noncredit-to-credit financial contribution ever being considered. In a number of documented situations, any c.e. direct ‘loss’ is majorly offset or exceeded by the c.e.’s unique and irreplaceable financial contribution to credit.

How LERN Will Save C.E. – – Again
LERN just recently completed a successful five-year effort to preserve the print brochure, and thus 70% of your c.e. registrations.  Here’s the current plan for the LERN campaign to save the field and your c.e. unit again.

We are intending to launch a two-pronged information and publicity effort to encourage and advocate for institutions to measure and report the percentage of noncredit students being converted to a credit or degree program, as well as the financial contribution they represent.

One target of the publicity effort will be heads of continuing education.  The second target of the publicity effort will be chief academic officers or another key central administrator.

Assisting LERN in developing and framing the message will be a committee of LERN leaders including:

  • Marie Price, North Idaho College
  • Joseph Cassidy, College of DuPage
  • Mark Mrozinski, Harper College (and Chair of the LERN Board of Directors)
  • Michael Garamoni, Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Monique Fortmann, Missoula County Public Schools
  • Heather Palermo, Great Falls College Montana State University
  • Amy Lasack, Kirkwood Community College
  • Aaron Sauerbrei, Hawkeye Community College