Access to a college credential has never been more important. There was a time that a high school diploma was your ticket to the middle class. Now an individual increasingly requires education or training beyond high school to be competitive even for entry-level jobs. A student that graduates from high school and does not enroll in college or additional certification beyond that diploma, will in most cases, find themselves with earnings well below the national poverty level a year later.

Florida College System institutions are the pathway to the American Dream for many of our residents. The open-access mission of the colleges provides hundreds of thousands of students across our great state the opportunity to pursue that dream. At a time when completion is the focus, it is critically important that readiness and access continue to play a leading role.

 Maintaining access requires conscientious, persistent and targeted efforts. Our colleges employ a number of strategies to ensure students are prepared for and have access to college while in high school. Allowing students, especially first-generation students, the opportunity to graduate from high school with college credit, supports access. Participation in dual enrollment continues to increase across the Florida College System, with about 55,000 students across the state participating in these programs. Students who earn college credit in high school finish their degrees in about half the time of their peers who do not graduate with college credits.

Innovative practices implemented in many of the colleges have proven successful and will continue to elevate Florida’s nationally recognized system and institutions to excellence. While continuing to increase completion rates, colleges maintain a diligent commitment to ensuring that each student that enters a college with a desire to earn a degree or certificate is supported on their path to the Dream.

Florida College System: Best Practices on Access 


Title: Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) 


When data indicated that most AA degree-seeking students failed to graduate, Chipola established the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). ACE provides free peer tutoring to students in many areas, including Accounting, Economics, Statistics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, English Composition, Astronomy, Humanities and most mathematics courses. ACE also provides tutorial assistance during final exam week. ACE averages a tutorial staff of 10 - 15 per semester with tutors offering assistance between 6-15 hours per week. Services are provided on demand and are open to all students—not just developmental or those studying a single subject or referred by an instructor. The learning culture is inclusive rather than exclusive. Data verifies the success of the ACE. On the graduating student survey, 77 percent of respondents reported attending the ACE. Of those, 93 percent reported that tutoring helped their overall GPA and 95 percent stated that a tutor was always available to help them. The ACE users survey further confirm these results. Of the regular users, 98 percent reported that someone was available to them, 94 percent responded that the ACE helped them maintain a higher GPA, 67 percent stated that they would be struggling more in classes without ACE tutoring, and 16 percent reported that they would not likely have remained enrolled without the ACE. 

Program Contact: 

Ms. Bonnie Smith
Coordinator, Academic Center for Excellence
Phone: 850-526-2761, ext 3247/3400


Title: Utilizing Navigators for Recruitment and Enrollment  


Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) has recently focused on improving ways to connect with K-12 students in the community. Feedback from high schools have revealed the need for additional resources to be provided to students in helping communicate college going information. To assist with this effort, GCSC created a Navigator program to embed on-site communication within each high school in the college’s service district. The Navigator program utilizes advisors to help guide students who are unsure of their next steps after graduation. The Navigator position provides an opportunity to assist parents and students with post-secondary education advice and options. Workshops are held for both students and parents to familiarize them with college processes including the filling out of the FAFSA. First generation college students are targeted in this process. The Navigator program has been in effect for approximately one year. During this time, the Navigators conducted over 27 events and campus tours, with more than 775 students and 117 parents. For district seniors, GCSC waived the application fee and more than $33,000 were awarded to Navigator nominated students. 

Program Contact: 

Dr. Cheryl Flax-Hyman
Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning
Phone: 850-747-3215


Title: Course Restructuring and One Stop Enrollment Services  


In the spring of 2016, academic and student support services were asked to collectively re-examine Florida Gateway College’s (FGC) summer course offerings and create a new summer schedule to boost enrollment. The College reviewed current enrollment patterns for low enrolled courses and collaborated new schedules with adjunct faculty. Agreements were created to remove low enrolled courses. All enrollment management departments increased outreach to high schools, targeting seniors, as well as parents who may be interested in returning to school. Increased marketing and publicity resulted in students making earlier commitments and following through on enrollment processes. One-Stop Enrollment days were scheduled to give potential students access to all services in one location. One Stop Enrollment now occurs every fall and spring terms. These events are centered on targeted outreach to unregistered students or students with pending admissions. Following the strategic practices associated with One Stop Enrollment and course restructuring, the summer 2016 semester enrollment increased by 4.5 percent in both headcount and Full-Time Enrollment (FTE).

Program Contact: 

Dr. Jennifer Price 
Vice President, Enrollment Management and Lifelong Learning 
Phone: 352-754-4324 


Title: Serving First-Generation and PELL Recipients


North Florida Community College (NFCC) serves 6 rural counties each with high poverty public schools. As a result, NFCC’s primary focus has been on the success of first-generation college students and Pell recipients. The majority of students enrolled at NFCC fit within this category. To target these student groups in a strategic manner, NFCC offers intrusive advising, financial aid services, and an academic success center built with a first generation college student in mind. Many of these service area students have limited information and support about what to expect from their college experience. In response, faculty and staff have been trained to help students move confidently toward graduation through personalized advising, learning resources, peer tutoring and student support programs. NFCC instructors and advisors are aware of how students track academically. They mentor and direct students to resources on and off campus, providing solutions to hurdles that often take students off track. Advisors help students build long-term plans and explore career options. NFCC’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) has been developed with this in mind by structuring an academic success center that focuses on student performance in gateway courses, and the increased use of technology that increases accessibility to rural dual enrollment students. North Florida has shown a great deal of success as a result of these implementation strategies. NFCC has been recognized nationally by publications and currently holds one of the highest Pell graduation rates in the state of Florida.

Program Contact: 

Ms. Kim Scarboro
Director of College Advancement
Phone: 850-973-1613


Title: Achieve Palm Beach 


Those who do enroll in college face challenges with successful completion. Of the graduating class of 2010, only two-thirds of those who started college received an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree within six years and 53 percent of the low income students who enrolled in college in 2010 received a degree within six years. Achieve Palm Beach was established to ensure that every Palm Beach County high school graduate completes a post-secondary credential within six-years of high school graduation to prepare them for a meaningful career and sustainable wage. Achieve Palm Beach was built on the premise that to be competitive, Florida needs to increase the percentage of individuals age 25 to 64 with a high-quality, post-secondary degree or credential to 60 percent by 2025. In partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County, the Achieve Palm Beach program has been established to increase the percentage of graduates through mentoring, advising, and college access information. Currently, only 42.3 percent of all graduates and 31.5 percent of low-income graduates are predicted to receive a post-secondary credential within six years of high school graduation. 

Program Contact: 

Dr. Peter Barbatis
Vice President of Student Services
Phone: 561-868-3142


Title: Virtual Tutoring  


The Virtual Tutoring (VT) Program at Pensacola State College supports student retention and success by expanding access to academic support services. The College offers free, high-quality tutoring in the math and writing labs at physical locations across the service district. With Virtual Tutoring, the College offers support to students unable to visit a physical support lab at times convenient to students such as late night and weekend hours. Using free, open source software, accessed via the College’s LMS, tutors offer online, synchronous tutoring to students at any location. Students are able to use any electronic device with Internet access. Using a webcam, an electronic tablet, and free screen-sharing software, tutors answer questions, provide detailed explanations, and illustrate complex concepts using both audio and video capabilities. The program was piloted in the Summer of 2015 using four different math sections and totaling 80 students. The results indicates that many students are taking advantage of the free, convenient access to virtual academic support services. The program was piloted in the Summer of 2015 using four different math sections and totaling 80 students. Student success data indicate rates of successful completion of courses for students who utilized virtual tutoring compared to success rates of students who did not utilize virtual tutoring. Results showed that virtual tutoring has had a positive effect on student success. The data indicates that many students are taking advantage of the free, convenient access to virtual academic support services. 

Program Contact: 

Dr. Erin Spicer
Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs
Phone: 850-484-1706


Title: Eagle CARE (Counseling, Advocacy, Resources, Engagement)   


The philosophy of Eagle CARE is to provide TCC students with the non-academic support to ensure those needs are met so that students can learn and ultimately achieve their educational goals. Services provided include a community garden and food pantry; hygiene kits and oral hygiene care in collaboration with our Dental Hygiene program; licensed mental health counselors and trained Mental Health First Aid staff across campus; a Victim Advocate; and a wide range of engagement opportunities through Service Learning, Clubs and Organizations. Over 230 students each term use the TCC Community Garden and Food Pantry. Forty-five college employees have become certified in Mental Health First Aid to help triage immediate needs until appropriate personnel are available. The Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement Office in collaboration with Academic Affairs, facilitates six service projects each year in addition to numerous volunteer opportunities with local non-profit organizations. Forty-eight students receive support through Fostering Achievement Fellowship program each year, and each month over 500 Veteran students are served successfully.

Program Contacts: 

Mr. Mike Coleman 
Dean of Student Services
Phone: 850-201-6140 

Dr. Sheri Rowland VP for Student Affairs 
Phone: 850-201-6205