Cosumnes River College striving for firsts | To The Point

Cosumnes River College is aiming to be the first to offer free textbooks, student housing, and a more flexible class schedule.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cosumnes River College, CRC, is reinventing what community college looks like following a multiyear decline in enrollment at community colleges.

Angling to be the first community college in the nation where students don’t have to buy textbooks. They plan to reach that goal by Fall 2023.

For students like Austin Newton in the nursing program, the cost of a textbook is also the cost of gas to get to school.

“In my physiology class there was a book you had to buy twice, cause you can rent it for a certain period of time but then you had to rent it again because it goes away by the time the term is over so then you have to buy the same book again,” said Newton.

Andi Adkins-Pogue is the Public Services Librarian in charge of getting faculty on board and 45% of faculty have already made the switch.

“We found that the average cost at our campus of a single class textbook was about $100 and when you are talking about 15 units that starts to add up,” said Pogue.

In the spring semester alone, that saved Cosumnes River College students $1.2 million dollars in the cost of textbooks. For the current fall semester $1.5 million in savings.

“If a student is on financial aid they actually don’t get that payment until after the semester starts so they might try to get through the first few weeks of the class without the textbook and that can be really challenging and it already puts them at a disadvantage,” said Pogue.

And that’s if there are textbooks left. For some students, saving money now can be an investment in future education.

“I’m transferring so that money can go towards college apps and for more colleges since each is 70 bucks to apply,” said Newton.

But CRC doesn’t want to be first in just textbooks. They also have plans to be the first in the Los Rios District to offer affordable housing units.

“The barrier which is a huge barrier of knowing where they are going to sleep where they are going to eat it removes that barrier it takes a lot of stress off their everyday life knowing they have a safe place to sleep,” said Michele Steiner, regional director of philanthropy.

They received $44 million in a grant from the state that will cover the cost of construction. Expecting to break ground in Fall 2023 with completion by 2025.

“It really does elevate the community college status, and we know most four-year institutions do feel that sense of community,” said Steiner.

The community college’s goal is to align students with a four-year institution. The college itself is embracing some traditional aspects of four-year institutions whether it’s the housing project that is looking to provide the same sense of community or class programs.

When students arrive at CRC they are presented with a full-time 15-credit schedule that includes transferable Math and English credits.

“It’s connected to the program that they are interested in the major they are interested in that’s what’s unique about it instead of just taking courses that may not have anything to do with their program of study we want them to come in and stay focus on the area they are interested,” said Tadael Emiru, chief student services officer.

But also, to graduate in two years by being and staying a full-time student.

Students get a choice with their schedule giving them the flexibility for family commitments or jobs.

For those like Rebecca Sutera in a demanding program of vet technician, she can choose to balance the course work.

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