Case Study: Frederick Community College (FCC) is creating successful student experiences

INSIGHTS

Helping students and communities thrive through dynamic, effective learning assessments and opportunity pathways 

Located in the growing, historic city of Frederick, Maryland, Frederick Community College (FCC) is a thriving public college of more than 200,000 students. Since 1957, FCC has built a reputation for its quality and affordability. With more than 6,000 students annually, FCC is an attainable, flexible and valuable educational destination for a diverse student population. To advance student’s learning experiences, the college continues to improve its organizational structure to meet the evolving landscape of education.  

Challenge: 

Continuous Improvement to Maximize Student Learning Opportunities  

FCC partnered with MGT Education (MGT) in 2021 to provide an analysis of its Learning Support Services department, now known as Student Affairs, through an organizational assessment with recommendations based on internal and external reviews, including “Secret Shopper” student experiences.  

Because of its ongoing commitment to student excellence, FCC has a strong foundation of resources and programs to accelerate student success, which is especially critical considering the impact of COVID, the projected population growth, and the College’s new incoming presidential leadership.  

By following the flow of the student experience and journey with consideration for maximizing effectiveness and efficiency, FCC  is prepared and ready to transform and optimize student success.  

Success Factors and Opportunities: 

Population Growth 

Unlike other community colleges, MGT Education’s demographic data analysis indicated that Frederick Community College is in a unique position to increase enrollments and student success over the next ten years. Population projections indicate an 8% (872) and 6% (204) growth in the population age groups between the ages of 15 to 19 and 20 to 24, respectively, between now and the year 2029*.  

Diversity

Additionally, the local population is projected to become more diverse, with the greatest increase being in the Hispanic population with 67% (15,539) by 2029. The Black and Asian populations are also expected to increase by 42% (10,942) and 40% (5,103), respectively.   

 

Transformational Opportunities 

To address internal and external opportunities to promote student success, MGT framed the recommendations in three transformation phases:  

Phase 1: Enhancing Student Experiences
Phase 2: Reframing Student Success
Phase 3: Elevating Student Success

Phase 1 – Greater Focus on Enhancing Student Experiences 

Phase 1 focuses on the most immediate opportunities to reduce barriers and create an open, welcoming and supportive environment in all phases of the student experience. 

In addition to faculty, staff, and student interviews, MGT’s “Secret Shopper” approach helped to identify key areas of improvement to engage students more effectively at every phase of the college experience, from student recruitment and admissions to advisement and graduation. By taking the point of view of a new student, MGT was able to identify challenges and barriers that could be quickly resolved.  

Some of the recommendations to enhance student experiences include:  

  1. Rebrand buildings and departments to better reflect services, starting with renaming “Learning Support” to “Student Affairs,” among others
  2. Update signage and wayfinding to better navigate the campus and identify student destinations, including the purpose and relocation of the “Welcome Desk.” 
  3. Refresh the website for improved online presence and easier access to information.  
  4. Create a one-stop “Student Success Center” to streamline student processes including admissions, financial aid, advisement, registrations, and records.  
  5. Improve and streamline student advisement with an increase in advisors, centralization of admissions services and offices to simplify processes, and implementation of best practices from NACADA, a global authority for more effective, customized student communications and resources to meet individual needs. 
  6. Centralize financial aid into one office to provide more in-depth information and support for all financial needs, including scholarships, grants, Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and loans. 
  7. Elevate and integrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the President’s office for increased campus-wide visibility and practice.  
  8. Infuse high-impact practices for student engagement, including learning communities, service-learning, student success workshops and organizations, social gathering places, volunteering, and internships to increase student participation and benefits in the Frederick Community College experience.  
  9. Comprehensively implement “Guided Pathways to drive student support throughout college careers.
     – Clarify and illustrate success pathways to achieve goals in a timely, efficient manner.
     – Help students select and enter effective educational pathways and “on-ramps” for program study and future careers.
     – Assist students to navigate and stay on pathways based on their needs, schedules, lifestyles, and resources.
     – Ensure students are learning and achieving academic and social skills necessary to thrive in post-graduation careers.  
  10. Personalize, customize and enhance student communications and interactions from transactional to transformational to create more meaningful, in-depth student relationships. The goal is to inspire, validate, and support student journeys from enrollment to graduation and beyond.  
*Exhibit 1. Population Change by Race/Ethnicity, 2019-2029

* Exhibit 1. Population Change by Race/Ethnicity, 2019-2029
Race/Ethnicity 
2019 Population 
2029 Population 
Change 
% Change 
2019 % of Cohort 
White, Non-Hispanic 
186,638 
188,694 
2,056 
1% 
71.62% 
Black, Non-Hispanic 
26,060 
37,002 
10,942 
42% 
10.00% 
White, Hispanic 
23,024 
38,563 
15,539 
67% 
8.83% 
Asian, Non-Hispanic 
12,729 
17,832 
5,103 
40% 
4.88% 
Two or More Races, Non-Hispanic 
7,180 
9,321 
2,141 
30% 
2.76% 
Black, Hispanic 
1,939 
2,924 
985 
51% 
0.74% 
Two or More Races, Hispanic 
1,084 
1,492 
408 
38% 
0.42% 
American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic 
770 
963 
193 
25% 
0.30% 
American Indian or Alaskan Native, Non-Hispanic 
572 
693 
121 
21% 
0.22% 
Asian, Hispanic 
375 
546 
171 
46% 
0.14% 
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Non-Hispanic 
138 
200 
62 
45% 
0.05% 
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic 
100 
130 
30 
30% 
0.04% 
Total 
260,609 
298,359 
37,750 
14% 
100.00% 
Source: EMSI, Q3 2021 Data Set.