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Tennessee Colleges Work Now So Free Community College Program Can Succeed Later

Tennessee Promise’s freshman year will be watched closely by parents and educators across the state, and by a high-profile cheerleader in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama visited Knoxville in January to celebrate Gov. Bill Haslam’s pioneering program. Its success this fall depends largely on the work that is underway at the state’s 13 public community colleges, where most of the eligible students will enroll. Colleges and state leaders are in the midst of laying groundwork for the students’ arrival, from added staffing to special events. While many of the changes vary by campus, some of the most crucial efforts are statewide, including an overhaul of remedial education and a robust redesign of the traditional orientation process. The leaders hope those changes will be enough to get the students onto campus and keep them there long enough to get a degree.