Publication Date

Fall 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jim Berger (Director), Lester Archer, and Aaron Hughey

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research

Degree Type

Master of Art


Nontraditional students are an untapped population for American higher education institutions. Private baccalaureate-granting universities have taken the lead on creating programs for this population’s needs. These programs typically include combinations of online instruction, cohorts, compressed or accelerated courses, and prior learning assessment. Similarly constructed programs for nontraditional students at public community colleges are less common. A review of the Council for Accelerated Programs’ website reveals only twelve of the 98-member institutions are community or technical colleges, and only one is in California (Council for Accelerated Programs, n.d.). In 2016, Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District in California created the Accelerated College Education (ACE) program specifically for working adults. ACE utilizes a cohort model, compressed courses, structured scheduling, and dedicated staff and faculty. However, little research exists that evaluates the combination of these elements for correlation to course success or student feelings of connectedness at a community college. This study uses Tinto’s framework of academic and social integration, including criticisms of its applicability to nontraditional students, to evaluate academic and social integration of Shasta College students who completed ACE compressed courses between June 2016 and December 2017. Course grade data showed higher participation by nontraditional students in these courses, and the ACE-cohort students’ course success rate was significantly higher than non-ACE-cohort students’ course success rate. Survey results demonstrated that ACE-cohort students had significantly more interactions with and feelings of connectedness to program/student support staff and other students than non-ACE-cohort students, and that these connections may have contributed to the success of their overall academics.


Adult and Continuing Education | Adult and Continuing Education Administration | Community College Education Administration | Community College Leadership | Student Counseling and Personnel Services