Enrollment continues to slide

(Editor's note: The final enrollment figures for the Fall 2014 semester have since been released by Tracy Vogt. The official headcount number is 3,482 which is a 7.8 percent decline in enrollment. The number of credit hours being taken is 29,571 which is a 9.9 decrease in hours since last year.)

Enrollment for Fall Semester 2014 has continued a four-year downward trend. Numbers provided by registrar Tracy Vogt show that student headcount is down from 3,760 in the fall of 2013 to 3,422 in 2014. That’s a nine percent decline in enrollment. Fewer students also means a decline in credit hours, from 32,906 last fall to 29,401, an 11 per- cent decrease, Vogt said.

“They’re not good – I guess we’re following the national trend,” said Randy Daniels, vice president of Student Information and Services.

“We’re not an anomaly by any stretch of imagination,” he said. Community college enrollment around the state is down anywhere from 1 percent to 17 percent.

Daniels also said that enrollment tends to cycle with the economy. When the economy is bad, enrollment is up, but when the economy gets better, enrollment begins to decline. Changes in financial aid procedures are another possible explanation for the low numbers, he said.

MCCC President Kojo Quartey and a college task force have been working to implement ag- gressive recruiting techniques. In addition, MCCC began offering classes at Monroe High School this fall. The numbers of high school students taking classes through dual enrollment continues to increase, Daniels said.  

“I think they’ll continue to help; they helped last year,” he said.

Daniels said the college has been reaching out to former students with emails and flyers in the mail, hoping to encourage them to return.

“This summer, Joe Verkennes (MCCC marketing director), has done a very aggressive marketing campaign,” Daniels said.

According to Daniels, former students who are not returning are one of the biggest hits in enrollment numbers. “My theory is that they’re working,” he said. “They’re working more hours and taking fewer classes.”

Current, former, and prospective students have differing opinions on what would encourage them to enroll at MCCC. Former student Kayla Vore wished that MCCC would have created a sports program when she attended.

“I don’t go to MCCC anymore, but I think they would have more people interested in going if they had a sports program and played other community colleges,” Vore said.

“I would have loved to continue playing soccer there,” she said.

The idea of adding a sports program has been a hot button topic for students and faculty for years. Board of Trustees members Linda Lauer and Jim Devries both mentioned  bringing sports to the college in their election campaigns.

Other areas in steep decline included students over the age of 21, which saw a 12 percent drop. Enrollment numbers have been steadily declining in recent years and it’s anyone’s guess as to what they’ll do next.

“My hunch would be that we’re going to level out as we try some new things, maybe create some new programs if the millage passes,” Daniels said.

MCCC announced this summer that it is proposing a new millage that would bring in money for the college through an increase in county property taxes.

For current students, space on campus is definitely an issue. Student Joshua Martinez thinks a parking garage would attract new students.

“Think about it, our campus gets filled during certain hours. A multi-leveled garage would eliminate that problem,” Martinez said.

“Plus if there was a parking fee for the garage, the college could recycle that money throughout the college.”  

Monroe High School graduate Jason Clark admits that it’s mostly his own motivation that prevented him from attending college.

“I slacked off and skimmed through high school without thinking of the future,” Clark said. Clark did say that there is something MCCC could have done to make a difference to kids like him.

“Maybe get their presence known better.” he said.  

A full enrollment report is expected to be released once registration closes.