Called Bradley Achieves, the new option is considered a “last-dollar scholarship” program, according to college president Dr. Carl Hite who recently updated members of Bradley Sunrise Rotary on the unique initiative’s progress since its 2011 inception.
Local students have flocked to the opportunity as evidenced by the 300 who have signed up. Officials originally projected about 190 students would need the program’s support.
Made possible by Cleveland businessman and philanthropist Allan Jones, Bradley Achieves caters to seniors who graduate from Walker Valley, Bradley Central and Cleveland high schools. The new program reaches out to local graduating seniors whose financial support for higher education is limited. Those who qualify can attend Cleveland State at no cost.
As currently funded, Bradley Achieves will be in place for the next two years.
“Allan Jones was kind enough to step up to the plate for the first two years,” Hite said. “There [are many] students who have an unmet financial need.”
There are two parts to the program — scholarships and mentoring. Within the state of Tennessee, 29 other counties have programs similar to this. And right now, more mentors are needed, Hite said.
Another piece of good news for CSCC students is that with a recent articulation agreement with public Tennessee colleges, more Cleveland State classes will be accepted when credits are transferred. The community college is still working on getting agreements with private schools.
Online programs are also available to CSCC students.
“We’ve been recognized as ahead of the curve in the use of technology in instruction,” Hite said.
He pointed to ongoing physical changes highlighting the CSCC campus.
“The campus itself is currently being totally renovated with money from the Wacker company which gave us this gift to specifically renovate the technology building on campus,” the longtime president explained.
CSCC also offers exemplary labs. For example, $1 million has just been spent renovating the science labs — both biology and chemistry — and the school is making strides toward the use of online applications that are available to both students and educators out of the half-a-million or so total apps available.
Hite also spoke to the Rotarians about the current state of education in general.
“The number of smart kids in China now outnumber all the kids in the U.S.,” Hite said. “That has huge implications on education. China is investing heavily in all levels of education and we are cutting back.”
The challenge for business is to have quality employees from which to choose, especially those with technical skills, Hite said. In fact, many jobs remain unfilled because employers can’t find people with the technical skills they need to fill them, the president explained. The main reason is math deficiencies, Hite added.
“We’ve figured out how to do it at CSCC,” he noted. “With all of our instruction, we need to do more, better — with less,” Hite said.
President Barack Obama even recognized CSCC for being a model for other colleges. CSCC costs less than most schools and provides a quality education, Hite offered.
After doing more than 200 consultations with colleges, CSCC has now decided to host other schools in one of four conferences a year on its campus to showcase the Cleveland State curriculum and its programs.
“Tennessee is still behind the rest of the nation when it comes to the percentage of adults with post-secondary degrees,” Hite said. “However, Tennessee is becoming a major player in changing that statistic.”
Americans are not good in math compared to the rest of the world, Hite said. This situation has created a shortage ofSTEM (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) talent. The 50 percent dropout rate from community colleges is largely due to the fact that students can’t do the math, Hite advised.
But there is hope.
Hite cited the case of one student who only had a third-grade-level understanding of math. Now, after help at the community college, she is taking calculus.
“It’s your community college,” Hite said.
For more information or to join the Bradley Achieves mentoring program, call CSCC at 472-7141.湤