Odinga Odessa College enrollment is under construction.

Dr. Gregory Williams

With enrollment declining in community colleges across the United States and Texas Community College autumn enrollment 11% down, Odessa College (OC) is growing trend. The college is 75 years old and has been enrolling in the fall for seven consecutive years.

In 2015, there were 5,568 students enrolled. In the summer of 2020, when the epidemic was at its peak, the college saw a 2.9 percent increase in enrollment. By the year 2021, the number of subscribers had increased to 8,020.

Since taking office as OCC President in January 2007, Dr. Gregory Williams has been exploring new ways to attract and enroll not only traditional students outside of high school, but also new, non-traditional students.

The college changed its course to eight-week programs and created technical bachelor’s degree programs. They began faculty training to be more involved in the student’s overall experience. Beginning in 2013, any first-time student will be able to enroll fully in the first grade.

The college has built innovative partnerships and provided financial resources through infrastructure. Some OC’s community partners include local car dealership and the University of Texas writing Permian Basin (UTPB). Collectively, students are working to create a student achievement initiative called “Driving to Success” that rewards students for engaging in activities that benefit their learning experience. Those points will be translated into submissions to win the new Ford Mustang once a year.

“We are partners with everyone,” Williams said. YouTube is nearby and most of their students start at OC.

About fifteen years After Williams took the lead, OC is well on its way to achieving its institutional goal of serving more than 10,000 students per semester. “Once they reach the border, they will be on the road to real change,” Williams said.

“In my day, we taught our students that if you were on a course that involved you or that you were in trouble, you would have to quit,” says Williams. “I don’t like this for Community College. Many of our students come with suitcases, have already fallen, and many are looking for a reason to leave. Dropping makes them believe that college is not for them.

OC faculty students are required to go through a transfer-level improvement program where they learn how to better connect and stay in class. Williams wants a faculty to encourage the student to complete what he has started, to develop academic muscle memory and to take a strong course.

“When a student starts a course [at OC]96 to 97 percent of students complete the course, ”said Williams.

Dr. Arthur Rankin, a professor of English and composition at OC since 2014, said the results were impressive and that his students would meet him shortly after leaving class.

“The down-to-earth optimization program creates a strong connection. [Students] Have a lawyer, have someone to look after you, ”said Rankin. Learning about students’ names, stories, interventions and helping them create relationships.

That culture of caring is not limited to teachers and students, but is pervasive throughout the campus. Policies are not silent but cooperate around activities. One day, Rankin, who had lived in Louisiana for many years, told the student movement committee that he longed for the Mardi Gras holiday. Later that year, the students celebrated Mardi Gras, which culminated in a procession of procession, band, doka, and Gambo. Now they celebrate Mardi Gras every year.

Stephanie Franco stands at Odessa College Baking Level Certificate next to her final project.Stephanie Franco stands at Odessa College Baking Level Certificate next to her final project.The OC environment and energy left such a positive impact on Stephanie Franco that she returned there 20 years after she stopped caring for her four children. When she left school, she fell in love with baking and decided to enroll in an OC cooking and catering program. In May 2021, she received a Baking Certificate. In O.C. Her thirst for knowledge was aroused, so she decided to enroll in college this fall to complete her undergraduate degree and pursue a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship. Her goal is to open a bakery one day.

“OSC always wants to improve and create input for the community,” Franco said. Chosen to be a positive OC scholar, a group of students who help spread the word about opportunities at the school.

“We come from an area where a lot of people work, and it’s the easiest way. That’s the right way,” Franco said. But some people don’t realize that the resources are there for you if you want to improve yourself and move on to another field. “

OC, located 20 miles from Midland, Texas, does not have a reputation for being a place of learning.

“We are competing with the oil industry. One can drive a car in our area and earn $ 100,000 a year. When things go well, they pay off in a wonderful way, ”said Williams. “History has never been so important to education. So we have to help overcome that.

The average age of an OC student is 28. To make the semester more tailored to different needs for different levels of life, the OC divides their semester from a 16-week to a two-week period, which means the student can do half of the work. Putting the time, on a solid path to completion.

“Eight-week courses allow students to focus on small things at once. Our part-time students take more than one course per semester and reduce time to degrees,” said Kimberley McKay, vice president of OC Student Services. She called out.

In a place that completes the gap between rural and urban areas, the eight-week term provides a schedule that works with current needs for agriculture or retail needs. If any student passes through the enrollment door, their first grade will be no more than eight weeks away.

“In the traditional model, you have to return when the registration opens. In fact, that student may not return, says McKay.[The eight-week term] It gives us the opportunity to overcome obstacles and connect students to higher education, not to wait for cycles.

She says that the eight-week course requires a lot of class time and that it should not make the student feel overwhelmed or overwhelmed.

“If math is your weakness, you can take college algebra alone for the first time,” Williams said. “In the first class you took one course and in the second you took three courses. You are still a full-time student, joining and merging, creating a menu that suits your life.

Most of the eight-week classes are hybrids, which means the time spent in the classroom is often praised, often online, in talks or projects. When the epidemic broke out, this imaginary body gave a little leg to the OCC. When it is time to move on from the courses offered in person, most students and teachers are ready.

“We were extremely accessible to our students, to each other, and to our business and energy partners,” McKay said. Although Summer 2020, Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021 are distance learning for students, we are still here, learning support, financial support, enrollment, advisory committees, to our board.

Odessa CollegeOdessa College

OC has opened the door even more when it comes to pursuing a non-traditional student, both after high school and when they join. The College works with OC and Midland Independent School districts to integrate high-credit learning opportunities for high school students, and to work with OC to provide middle school and elementary schools. Two early college high schools, both on the OC’s campus, provide free education to about 900 students in the academic and technical fields.

Over the past decade, OC has invested $ 90 million in campus upgrades to upgrade its facilities. In O.C. A new health science project is under way as OC plans to build a nursing technical bachelor program.

Williams himself is a 1983 OC graduate. His dream of getting back to where he started was a reality.

“Odessa College was the starting pad,” Williams said. “I am trying to make it the best community college in the country. Everything we do wraps around it. At Odessa College, I want to help change the world.

You can find Liann Herder on. lherder@diverseeducation.com

Leave a Comment