Lowered enrollment limits college finances
Building of new Campus Center restricts space for classes, students
Biology major Courtney Nwuke sits on the floor in an attempt to save her spot in part-time professor Terence Ivory’s Theater Appreciation class in AA-211 on Jan. 21. George Morin / The Advocate
Enrollment numbers at Contra Costa College for the spring semester are 2.2 percent lower than they were in the spring 2013 semester as of Jan. 27.
CCC has 6,782 students in its classrooms surrounding the new Campus Center construction zone in the heart of campus.
"Construction has definitely had an impact with enrollment," ASU President Ysrael Condori said. "Classrooms are at a premium this semester."
The demolition of the old Humanities Building has forced the college to condense classes.
Challenged by impacted classroom space, administrators and the Associated Students Union Board have been working on attracting more students to enroll through different marketing tactics, installing new resources for students and focusing on community outreach.
"It will be difficult to keep enrollment up during the upcoming three years because of the construction." Condori said. "After we get our new buildings we have to be ready to enroll as many students as we can."
The Enrollment Report as of Jan. 27 shows CCC's head count shrunk by 153. The Contra Costa Community College District is shy of meeting its base enrollment target by 401 students - down by 1.2 percent from the spring 2013 semester.
"It (enrollment) is extremely important," college President Denise Noldon said. "That's what we base our budget on. Lower enrollment means less FTES."
A student taking on a full course load of 15 units a semester is equal to one Full-Time Equivalent Student. The base target of FTES required by the state is 5,774.
This information is collected annually. This number is directly proportional to state funding given to every community college in California.
Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said there are many factors that can influence spikes or drops in enrollment, but a major factor could be that students are going back to work.
"It's a cyclical thing," Gilkerson said. "We are in a period coming out of a major recession and now it's a time for economic growth."
If the number of students enrolling at CCC were to drop dramatically, the effects would result in "less money, fewer programs and fewer services," Dr. Noldon said.
To increase enrollment, Gilkerson worked on designing the new class schedule booklet that was sent out to 2,100 homes in CCC's service area, which spans from Pinole to Kensington, over the winter break.
"Administration mailed class schedules to everyone in the area and I think it's a really good approach," Condori said. "However, they should have done this before the end of the fall semester instead of closer to the beginning of this one. Timing can limit enrollment."
Many students are enrolling online. Anthropology major Myesha Pruette said she used the Insite Portal to get her class schedule this semester and experienced fewer problems than normal by going online.
"It's easier and quicker. Usually when I have to come in person, it's crowded," Pruette said. "You have to be here super early."
The ASU approved a Grant for Support of $1,500 for Student Services to help pay for food and set up costs associated with Super Saturday.
Where counselors invite hundreds of high school seniors to the campus for orientation and to help them enroll at CCC.
Super Saturday, a CCC recruitment fair, is scheduled for May 10 and is expected to affect next fall semester's head count.
"Students are assessed and oriented here on campus. We help students create their education plan and register on the spot," Admissions and Records Director Catherine Fites said. "It's like an open house, where you can also register for college."
Fites said the goal of Super Saturday is to make students see CCC as an option for their first college choice, instead of a back-up plan.
To help the program and enrollment numbers grow, the ASU has been working with Student Services by assigning a student ambassador to each local high school where they will talk to students about their options once they graduate, Condori said.
"We want to also designate each ambassador to a club here on campus," he said. "So when they go to the high schools they can promote the club to students. If they do decide to enroll, it will be into a comfortable and friendly environment."
In the Student Services Center, there will be a Welcome Center installed before the end of this semester, Noldon said.
"The student ambassadors have been very helpful," she said. "The ASU has done a wonderful job providing various grants to clubs and programs regarding enrollment."
Gilkerson said, "We are in the process of making the conversion now. We will make space for a bank of computers outside the dean's office. Here students will be able to go to get enrollment information or help with registration."
Student Nate Simpson said that enrollment could be low at CCC due to students choosing colleges like Diablo Valley College instead.
"People go to DVC because they have this image that it is nicer. That stereotype needs to be broken," Simpson said. "Teachers here make it easier to succeed. At DVC they have a bar and, if you don't meet it, you are out of luck."
Noldon said there are many schools out there that people perceive to be "less desirable."
"More often than not, people are surprised when they come (to CCC) for the first time - pleasantly surprised," she said.
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