Colleges and universities are going through a period of rapid change. Rising costs and the need to quickly produce graduates for the workforce are among the challenges faced by higher education institutions. To meet these challenges, colleges across the country have recommitted to delivering affordable services that support student completion. Here in Utah, Salt Lake Community College is engaged in several initiatives designed to make higher education more accessible while encouraging students to finish a degree or certification program.
The Pathways education model encourages new college students to select an area of study, sample majors in that area of study, and declare a major early in their college experience. SLCC offers eight areas of study, including Arts, Communication and Digital Media; Business; Computer Science and Information Technologies; Health Sciences; Humanities; Construction, Manufacturing and Applied Technologies; Science, Engineering and Mathematics; and Social & Behavioral Sciences, Education and Human Services.
Pathways also require students to regularly meet with an academic advisor to create a path for reaching their educational goals. This is critical as students who are constantly in contact with an advisor tend to make more timely decisions about their majors and complete college faster than those who don’t participate in advising services.
Many of today’s college students, due to work and family commitments, prefer the option of taking courses online. SLCC has greatly expanded its online offerings to include nearly 700 individual classes; with more than 10,000 students taking at least one virtual class. These courses are designed so students can review lessons, interact with classmates and instructors, and approach assignments and exams with more flexibility; as well as access college resources like tutoring, coaching, and advising, all online.
In 2016, the SLCC Promise program was launched to combat what for many is the prohibitive cost of higher education. SLCC Promise removes one of the economic barriers to college by covering the cost of tuition and fees when federal grants fall short. In just three years, more than $3 million in scholarships has been awarded to nearly 2,000 students, helping them avoid costly student loans.
It’s no secret college textbooks are expensive. About one-third of all SLCC students report not purchasing a textbook due to cost, while half say they have registered for fewer courses because of the price of books.
In response, the college launched OPEN SLCC: a school initiative that promotes the use of free, online resources as an alternative to expensive textbooks. During the last three years, OPEN SLCC has saved students more than $9 million in textbook costs.
With Utah’s booming economy, the need for well-trained, educated workers is stronger than ever. SLCC is committed to continue exploring opportunities that make higher education accessible and affordable to help students succeed in their academic endeavors; as well as prepare them for meaningful careers that will contribute to Utah’s economic vibrancy and high quality of life.
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Salt Lake Community College is Utah’s largest two-year higher education institution. The college is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs; and the largest supplier of transfer students to the state’s four-year institutions. SLCC is a top 10 college nationally for total associate’s degrees awarded; and the leading provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area.