MCCC winter enrollment fell for the seventh consecutive semester.
The number of students is down 6.2 percent, or 216 students, from last semester and down 9 percent, or 326 students, from this point last year.
Mark Hall, director of Admissions and Guidance Services, explained the trend correlates with the state of the economy.
“Historically, it’s been the biggest predictor of our enrollment than anything else,” Hall said.
The college reached an all-time peak for enrollment at 4,723 students during the Fall 2010 semester, which was in the middle of the recession.
“When the economy’s bad, a lot of transfer students stay at home because of money,” Hall said. “As the economy improves and more money is out there, they tend to go off to school.”
Older, non-traditional students came to the college during the stagnation, earning two-year applied science degrees in order to return to the workforce.
“Typically for community colleges, enrollment declines when the economy gets better,” Hall said.
Hall also explained that the average age of the student body has steadily decreased.
In fall 2010, the average age was 26 years, compared to 23.8 years for Winter 2015.
The lower average age is influenced by a couple of factors, Hall said.
More of the older students have returned to the workforce, and younger students are taking advantage of dual enrollment, middle college and direct high school enrollment.
“It’s bad for us, but it’s good for the people returning to work; sort of a double-edged sword,” said Randell Daniels, vice president of Student and Information
Currently the college has 550 dual-enrolled students and the middle college has approximately 250 students.
Direct enrollment is a program where Monroe High School students can take college courses taught by MCCC’s professors without leaving their high school. Currently the program has registered 88 students.
The college has also raised its standards. Several prerequisites were added in the fall to ensure that students are better prepared for college courses. Tighter restrictions on entry to classes like Anatomy and Physiology I and Accounting 151 prove challenging for some students.
“Anytime the college raises its standards, the population suffers,” Hall said.
Cut scores also were introduced. In core subjects like Math and English, students who score below specified minimums on the ACT or COMPASS placement test must successfully complete a remedial course prior to enrolling in a 100-level or higher course.
That also has reduced enrollment, Hall said.