For now, spring enrollment down at CCC&TI

Enrollment period continues through Jan. 6
Nov. 22, 2013 @ 08:29 AM

Compared to this time last year, spring-semester enrollment at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is down by 703 students, vice president of student services Dena Holman told the college’s board of trustees Thursday.

In mid-November 2012, 3,099 students had registered for the 2013 spring semester. At the same point this year, 2,396 students had registered for spring 2014.

CCC&TI president Ken Boham said the comparison is “an apple-to-apple snapshot.” But the first enrollment period remains open until Dec. 5, with there is another chance to enroll on Jan. 6.

Enrollment at CCC&TI also declined in fall 2012, spring 2013 and fall 2013. Changes in enrollment are important because the college’s state funding is based in part on the number of students enrolled.

The college attributes enrollment declines in part to an overall improvement in Caldwell County’s employment outlook. The county’s unemployment rate, which peaked at 17 percent in February 2010, was 8.9 percent in August 2013. (Due to the federal government shutdown in October, the August statistics are the most recent ones that will be available until early December.)

That decline means fewer laid-off workers enroll in community colleges to learn new skills – and fewer are receiving benefits from the state to do so.

“When people are going back to work, we know what happens to our enrollment,” Boham said. “Thank God they’re going back to work. We’re happy that they’re going back to work … but they’re going back to work, and so we’re seeing all those factors come into play in terms of where we are in enrollment.”

The college also took an enrollment hit when Career and College Promise, a program created by then-Gov. Bev Perdue in January 2012, rearranged the way high school students could take college courses across the N.C. Community College system. Among other changes, it allowed only high school juniors and seniors to take community college courses, which conflicted with a pre-existing CCC&TI program that allowed all high school students to take courses.

Now, after lobbying from the college’s staff and board of trustees, some options are back for high school freshmen and sophomores – but those options are still restricted, and the change could still be affecting enrollment, Boham said Thursday.

In an attempt to increase numbers, the college has embarked on a “media blitz,” Holman said – getting speakers into public-school classrooms, purchasing billboards on U.S. 321 and using Facebook and Twitter. Former students from the past five years have received postcards advertising the registration period. Students who left the college while short only one or two courses of their degree have received phone calls.

“We’re using media,” Boham said. “(Public information officer) Edward (Terry) is on Twitter. We’re on Facebook. If you go up and down 321 from here to the Tennessee line and from the Tennessee line to the Catawba River, you will see our billboards. You will see printed material about registration. We’ve been on TV. We’re doing everything possible.”