With an eye toward increasing access to the California Community Colleges and improving the student experience, a large-scale effort is underway to redesign the system’s online college application, known as CCCApply.
The Chancellor’s Office, the CCC Technology Center, and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, in collaboration with the community colleges, and in partnership ideas42, are collaborating to redesign the CCCApply experience with a student-centered approach in mind, applying behavioral science to inform design and practices to reduce subtle barriers that hinder students’ progress through the early phases of matriculation and educational path-choosing. Our effort is to make system-wide student facing technologies and interventions feel cohesive, connected, and relevant while streamlining the collection of student data to reduce fatigue, repetition, intimidation, and confusion.
Short-term activities such as reducing the number of questions in CCCApply and creating a simpler application for noncredit students that began last spring has been bolstered by the passage of Assembly Bill 3101.
Driver: AB 3101
The CCC Chancellor’s Office is driving the changes to ensure CCCApply supports students through the community college application and enrollment process, and is targeting development and implementation of the redesigned system in fall of 2019.
The passage of AB 3101 gave us the latitude we needed to deliver a modified version of CCCApply for our noncredit student population. Our goal is to find balance in what is asked of the student that is applying for college while still collecting all of the information required for state and federal reporting purposes. Lifting the requirement for uniform residency determination for all students allows us to look at other questions and steps that might be omitted at the time of application.
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The legislation cites the following:
- On average, the application process takes a student 45 minutes to complete due to the amount of information it requests.
- The state has documented an average abandonment rate of 5 percent, and ranging up to 14 percent at some community colleges, in regards to the number of students who begin the application process, but fail to complete it.
AB 3101 mandates that “only data that is required by the federal government, state law, or that is otherwise necessary, as determined by the chancellor, is collected during the process.” It further prescribes that supplemental student data should be collected only after the student has applied to a community college. Students seeking to enroll in career development, college preparation, and other noncredit courses would be exempt from residency classification requirements. Colleges would be reimbursed for additional costs imposed by the state mandate.
The project is applying behavioral science to inform a more student-centered design that is simpler, streamlined, and improves overall usability.
While the majority of students have a positive experience with CCCApply, all aspects of the online application process are being reviewed for potential improvement. This focus includes identifying and removing barriers for noncredit and other special populations that will decrease abandonment and increase successful application rates.
In order to meet the goals and timeline in AB 3101, the redesign project is being approached in two design and development phases: 1) a short-term redesign phase which includes a series of enhancements to the current application, as well as the development and implementation of a residency-free noncredit application; and 2) a long-term phase which includes collaboration with stakeholders to rebuild CCCApply from the back-end and user interface based on the overarching objectives of the system's goal to make student facing technologies and interventions feel cohesive, connected, and relevant.
The approval of all business requirements will be guided by the CCCTC, collaborative stakeholder groups, and the Chancellor’s Office.
The development team will continue to keep the field updated on the progress of the CCCApply redesign.