Deshaun Dorsey was a few classes shy of an associate degree when she took time off to help her husband through heart surgery. She was thinking about going back to school when she got a call from Elgin Community College encouraging her to re-enroll.
“Sometimes when you stop going, you get comfortable—and then you don’t reach your goals,“ said Dorsey. “That phone call gave me the boost I needed to get back to class.”
More than a dozen college employees and ECC Foundation volunteers spent three days in April 2019 calling 921 “near completers”—students who are within 15 credit hours of completing a degree or certificate, but not currently enrolled. Twenty percent of the students who spoke with a caller enrolled for either summer or fall 2019 classes, along with 15 percent of students who received a voicemail.
“The great thing about a calling campaign is that volunteers connect directly with students,” said David Davin of the ECC Foundation, who proposed the campaign. “They want our students to know the community is behind them.”
The initiative expanded on ECC’s current practice of notifying students by email. Callers provided both encouragement and assistance. Financial aid and student advising staff were on hand, so students could speak to the appropriate departments. Foundation board member Tom Youngren, a volunteer, agreed that the phone calls were powerful.
“The most common reaction was surprise that ECC cared enough to call and check in,“ Youngren said. He added that it was gratifying for the volunteers to listen to the students’ stories and help them take their next steps.
Thanks to efforts like these, ECC had a 3 percent increase in enrollment for fall 2019. The calling campaign was the first in a series of efforts to help near completers reach the finish line.
As for Dorsey, she’s back in class, earning straight A’s, and planning to graduate next year. “You can get so focused on obstacles that you don’t deal with your goals,” she said. “Getting that phone call encouraged me to move forward.”
If you would like to help, please contact the ECC Foundation at 847-214-7377 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.