The early numbers

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

An early look at who’s up and who’s down in enrollment.

Stopping or slowing enrollment declines is something on the minds of most community college presidents. With the fall semester just getting underway, here’s a check in to see where a few colleges are at with their numbers.

Enrollment is up at North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Community College after several years of flat enrollment. The college had 2,191 students enrolled as of last week, which represents a 10 percent increase from Fall Semester 2017.  Programs such as nursing and surgical technology are at maximum capacity this year and the basic law enforcement training program has also enrolled one of its largest classes in recent history.

This is all despite the fact that Henderson County, where BRCC is located, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

The college recently made revisions in the advising process, expanded registration periods, improved communication methods with prospective students, and a targeted marketing and outreach campaign, which may have attributed to the increased enrollment. President Laura Leatherwood and her team also have an eye on local and national trends, and have been working with local partners in economic development to tailor their approach and respond to opportunities.

“Our willingness to respond to regional workforce needs with new and innovative training opportunities, partnerships and collaboration have allowed Blue Ridge Community College to defy the odds. Our efforts now will result in a more skilled workforce for Henderson and Transylvania Counties, and a better-prepared student who wishes to transfer to a four-year university,” Leatherwood said in a release.

In Tennessee, Cleveland State Community College enrolled 2,192 full-time equivalent students this fall, a 5 percent increase in FTE over last year. In addition, dual enrollment increased 25 percent from 2017, due in part to the college receiving a state grant to expand its Middle College Mechatronics Program. Jackson State Community College also saw enrollment increases: a 7 percent overall increase, and a 10 percent increase in new student enrollment.

More adults also are enrolling at Tennessee’s community colleges, thanks to Tennessee Reconnect, a College Promise program for adults.

Terra State Community College (Ohio) opened the semester with nearly 595 FTE students, exceeding its fall 2018 goal of 569. And Northwest Arkansas Community College enrolled more than 8,300 credit students — the first time since the 2013-14 academic year that more than 8,000 students have been enrolled. This year’s numbers represent at a 4.4 percent enrollment increase from last year.

At Colorado’s Northeastern Junior College, enrollment is down slightly. As of the last week of August, the head count was 1,312, down 35 students from 2017 and 80 students from 2016.

Amarillo College in Texas had a slight overall dip in enrollment, but an increase in FTE. And at SUNY Adirondack, one week before the start of the semester, enrollment was down 3 percent compared to the same time in 2017. That makes the fourth straight year of enrollment declines at the college.

It’s still early and for many colleges, final enrollment hasn’t been determined yet. Expect more in the coming months about national enrollment trends.

What is your college doing to stem enrollment declines? Sound off at LinkedIn

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.