CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) is doing something new with a particular group of incoming freshmen. For the past few days the community college held several "Priority Freshmen Orientations". This is the community college's first time doing this.
Officials say this is done at four year colleges - why not at a two year college. This particular orientation is for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) High School Seniors who have enrolled in CPCC. This orientation is targeting CMS graduates.
CPCC wants to engage and make them feel connected to the college sooner rather that later. The college is expecting about 5,000 new freshmen in the fall and say roughly 2,200 of them will be CMS graduates.
"When a student comes to the college they need to have that confidence that we have the resources that will help them succeed," CPCC Enrollment Management Dr. JJ McEachern said.
McEachern says many CMS graduates are opting to come to a community college first before a four-year college because of finances. It cost about $3,400 a year to attend CPCC - thousands more to attend a four year college.
"Students are coming here not only because they can get the first two years done and done well but they are also coming here because we can find scholarships to help them get through that first two years and come out of college debt free," McEachern said.
Other reasons why students choose a two year college is because of academics. CPCC says it accepts all students even if they don't have the grades to get accepted to a four-year college. Some students come to CPCC and are forced to take remedial classes because they aren't prepared. CPCC says that's okay.
"Whatever happened in high school happened in high school," McEachern said. "Now they have the opportunity to rewrite their next chapter in their lives - so we have the student resources that are available. We have the academic tutors that are available."
So far about 250 CMS students have participated in these specialized orientations at CPCC including more than 100 CMS seniors on Monday. They learned everything from student support services at CPCC, summer programs to financial aid.
"Altogether I felt like it was well informed and it's been a good thing. I haven't felt worried and I am not - 'Oh my God look at this school. It's like oh okay - just a few more steps - I get it,'" Ardrey Kell High School senior Harrison Sturgill said.
Students say they feel good about attending CPCC straight out of college. They believe they are not missing out on anything by going to a community college first.
"I feel like it's a lot more competitive than I think years ago and the perception has definitely changed," Sturgill said.
Some CMS students say after they finish up at CPCC, they will enroll in a four year institution. CPCC says the orientations have been a success and they plan to continue them.