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Quality Enhancement Plan

Institutional Overview

Carteret Community College (“CCC” and “the College”) is a two-year, comprehensive, public, post-secondary, nonresidential institution with the following mission:

Carteret Community College offers opportunities for lifelong learning through high quality traditional and distance learning teaching, training, support, and enrichment with the intended purpose of improving the quality of life for all citizens of Carteret County and eastern North Carolina.

Responsive to the needs of local business and industry, the College offers occupational training programs, including those designed to support tourism, marine occupations, and the legal and business professions. Unique to our service area are the College’s programs in aquaculture and marine manufacturing and service, health sciences, photography, culinary and hospitality, and human services technology. Additionally, the College contributes to the personal, social, and cultural growth of local citizens, and provides interested students with courses that transfer to senior institutions.

Founded in 1963, Carteret Community College is one of 58 institutions comprising the North Carolina Community College System. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College since 1974, the College currently serves 2,061 curriculum and 3965 non-credit students with the help of 165 full-time and 373 part-time employees (AY 2016-17).

In its early years, the College reflected the local economy. Families relied on commercial fishing, and related occupations in Carteret County. As a result, the College offered a limited number of vocational courses such as marine diesel, small engine repair, heating/air conditioning, and electrical, along with a small college transfer program and a few applied science degree options. For the past few decades or so, the county has been transitioning away from commercial fishing and into a technical and service-centered economy. The College now offers up-to-date academic, technical and vocational programs, from aquaculture to nursing, and prepares students for success in the fast-paced information age.

With more than 35 programs of study to choose from, students can pursue programs leading to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. The College increases vocational program options with the recent addition of Automotive Technology, Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology, Horticulture Technology, and Welding Technology.

In keeping with the county’s tradition and building on an already strong marine foundation, Carteret Community College has a Cooperative Innovative High School program called Marine Science & Technologies Early College (MaST). In addition, the College working toward the designation of a Domestic Maritime Center of Excellence. The Domestic Maritime Workforce Training Centers of Excellence is a federal program that would advance CCC's capabilities and other two-year community and technical colleges to secure the talent pipeline for maritime industry jobs by filling a void in training and educational programs. CCC would be the only North Carolina Community College with such a designation.

This supplements the marine presence by other institutions in the area, including North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for Marine Sciences, Duke University’s Marine Science Lab, and the NOAA Beaufort lab making Carteret County a premier marine science research center in the nation and the world.  

In 2018, Carteret Community College served the needs of 69,524 residents of Carteret County (U.S. Economic Development Administration, n.d.). Located in Morehead City, the largest town in Carteret County, Carteret Community College occupies nearly forty acres on the north shore of Bogue Sound, a part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Because of its coastal location, Carteret County aggregate statistics mask deep-seated pockets of poverty. The county is 100 miles long and averages ten miles in width. The Bogue Banks Island, comprises ten percent of the county’s area, but two-thirds of its tax valuation (U.S. Economic Development Administration, n.d.).

The most recent poverty rate records for Carteret County in 2017 indicate a rate of 12.3 percent, which is a slight increase from 2007, when it was 10.7 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). Over half of Carteret’s jobs are in tourist-based retail and service jobs (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). While county per capita income is 16th from the top of North Carolina’s 100 counties, Carteret is tenth from the bottom in wages (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). This disparity is due to the large number of affluent retirees who have moved to the seaside in recent years and to the fact that the highest paying jobs in the region, for contract workers at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, are located just outside Carteret County. However, families that have relied for up to ten generations on fishing and who own property on the water are finding themselves impoverished by the simultaneous increase in taxes and decline in commercial fishing.

Additional indicators of need in the county include the number and percentage of Carteret Community College students who qualify for need-based financial aid. In the 2016-2017 academic year, Carteret Community College provided $3,359,596 in some form of federal, state, or institutional financial aid for 964 students (unduplicated headcount). Pell grants provided help to 861 students, 611 were females. Total amount disbursed was 2,888,574 dollars. Approximately forty percent of all enrolled females received Pell grant aid. An additional 158 students received Veteran’s benefits. 

This large number of students eligible for need-based aid helps explain the correlation of a similar large population of first generation students. Carteret County historically has had a large population of first generation students. Numbers of first generation numbers were as high as 50% of the student body, at the time when the school collected the data on the application for admission. First generation students typically are less likely to understand or use available student services or seek assistance when it could improve their chances of being successful.

The North Carolina Community College System (NCCS), which includes all 58 community colleges, measures student completion rates annually. Carteret Community College has seen an increase in completion rates since 2016. In 2016, CCC’s completion rate was 36.5%. However in 2017, the rate increased to 42.2% and to 43.7% in 2018. The NCCCS completion rate average for the entire state of North Carolina in 2018 was 43.4%. Even though the College is consistent with the state average, improving the completion rates of our students is a priority.

Additionally, the College could improve student retention or persistence rates. Although, it has shown little variation over the last five years with a retention rate averaging 56.8 percent. The transfer programs record a retention rate of 44.0 percent and lag behind health sciences degree programs program at 68.1 percent.

Accurate and comprehensive advising can help improve the completion rates and help improve student retention and persistence. Most importantly, accurate and comprehensive advising is essential to protect the vulnerable populations of students: those large numbers of students depending on federal financial aid, Veteran’s benefits, and especially those first generation students. Accurate and comprehensive advising will help avoid the loss of financial aid eligibility by taking unnecessary courses. In addition, focusing on career and academic planning will help those indecisive students find direction and ultimately complete a program of study.