New programs lead to increased to winter enrollment

While enrollment appears lower overall in comparison to earlier years, Winter Semester enrollment has increased between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years (Graphic by Lauren Werlinger).

In the 2021 Winter Semester, enrollment is up by 3%.

Typically, enrollment will increase in the fall and stay the same or decrease in the winter.

The total number of students currently enrolled is 2,380, which is up from 2,312 compared to the 2020 Fall Semester.

MCCC ranks third in year-over-year enrollment among all Michigan community colleges, when for the past 10 years, it ranked 19th.

The Future for Frontliners program, a statewide program that provides free tuition for essential workers, contributed 55% of the college’s enrollment growth.

Joe Verkennes, director of Marketing and Communications, said he had to abruptly change his plans for marketing to accommodate the new program.

Verkennes estimates $15,000-$20,000 twas spent on creating and distributing yard signs and flyers, email campaigns, direct mail and adding a Future for Frontliners section on the MCCC website.

The Office of Admissions & Guidance Services, Registrar’s Office and Financial Aid Office reached out to an estimated 2,000-4,000 people who were eligible for Future for Frontliners through various medias, said Scott Behrens, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success.

“The Marketing and Communications departments really play a role in getting the messages out to the masses,” Verkennes said.

Behrens said their goal was to emphasize that MCCC faculty are here to help students achieve their goals.

They also partnered with over 300 businesses in Monroe to find people who were eligible for Future for Frontliners.

Behrens said late-start classes have also helped to increase enrollment.

The deadline for Future for Frontliners was Dec. 31, 2020, and it took several weeks for the state to process applications. People were unable to enroll in classes at the beginning of the semester.

Kevin Cooper, dean of Science and Mathematics Division and interim dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, and his academic team helped coordinate late-start classes so Future for Frontliners applicants could still enroll in the Winter Semester.

Behrens uses the Winter Enrollment Report to understand which students need more support and encouragement.

From the 2020 Winter Semester to the 2021 Winter Semester, the number of continuing students is down by 12.4%. Additionally, male students are not enrolling at the same rate as female students.

Of the 12.4%, Winter Semester enrollment of male students is down by 11.4% In particular, it is part-time male students and minority male students who are dropping out or not enrolling.

To combat this, Behrens said MCCC will put a focus on maintaining students once they are enrolled.

MCCC plans to find ways to further engage Monroe’s minority population.

Ryan Rafko, director of Admissions and Guidance Services, said the Winter Enrollment Report is valuable because it allows him to provide information about student demographics to MCCC stakeholders.

The upcoming Summer Semester will be MCCC’s next focus for enrollment, Rafko said.

He predicts that there will be more classes offered than the 2020 Summer Semester, which was severely impacted by COVID-19.

Rafko also said MCCC will continue to promote the Future for Frontliners program as well as the Michigan Reconnect program, which is a statewide program that offers free community college tuition to Michigan residents over the age of 25.

“We’re getting education in the hands of the people in Monroe who truly need it,” Behrens said. “There’s no better equalizer than education.”