OUR OPINION
NSCC embarks on a bold mission
Lynn Item|November 19, 2022

Along with 13 other colleges across the country, North Shore Community College (NSCC) is on a mission to reshape the higher education landscape.

Like any bold endeavor, the mission embraces lofty goals: Find ways to align the class-for-credit and noncredit educational experience; address the “whole” student taking into consideration social, emotional, occupational, as well as, educational needs, and launch students on the path to college earlier in life.

NSCC has already embarked on this last objective by partnering with Lynn public schools on a new early college high school. The endeavor was inspired in part by former Lynn Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Tutwiler.

Not surprisingly, the early college goal is a lofty one: Build the program’s enrollment up to 400 students over the next four years. Early college parallels high school’s four-year span, with students initially taking core content courses with the  option of taking up to 12 credits-worth of college  elective courses in their  junior and senior years. 

NSCC is the only Massachusetts school picked by the Association of Community College Trustees and Education Strategy Group’s Non-Credit and Credit Alignment Lab to help construct a stepping stone on the path leading students to higher-earning jobs and greater career sustainability. 

NSCC President Dr. William Heineman said the Association’s mission mirrors NSCC realization that fundamental changes are reshaping higher education. Manufacturing jobs that at one time didn’t even require a high school degree now require technical training and credentials. 

Higher education remains a pathway to high  salaries, with a $75,000 median annual earnings for someone holding  a bachelor’s degree or  higher. But Lynn falls far short of this achievement yardstick with 2021 U.S.  Census data revealing 19 percent of city residents hold a bachelor’s or more advanced degree compared to one in three Americans nationally and more than 44 percent of Massachusetts residents. 

“It makes you much more marketable,” said Heineman. Better serving its student populations and meeting the Association’s goals translates into a lot of work for NSCC, said the school’s president. 

Professors must reevaluate traditional academic thinking to find ways to provide post-secondary education from short-term  training to associate degrees. 

Meeting early college enrollment goals means finding more classroom space. 

Everyone in the college system must answer Heineman’s call to do a better job serving the immigrant student population  and luring adults who never finished college degree programs back into the classroom. 

Lynn public schools enthusiastically signed on as partners in this mission.  But NSCC needs expanded and renewed business and nonprofit community partnerships to achieve its goals. 

One fact is certain, said Heineman: NSCC will look and operate very differently in three to five years.    

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