The continued enrollment declines that community colleges have faced over the past few years have been much discussed.
As reported in the last issue of On The Record, at the start of the Winter 2014 semester, the number of students enrolled at WCC was down 3.4 percent compared to the start of Winter 2013.
Other community colleges in Michigan have seen worse enrollment drops. Jackson Community College reported a 10.4 percent decline in credit hours between Fall 2012 and Fall 2013. Henry Ford Community College reported a 24 percent decline.
This downward trend is expected to continue.
But instead of simply hoping for the best, WCC has taken a number of important and proactive steps to attract more students and better serve its current students.
In addition to launching a marketing campaign, offering more condensed 10- and 12-week courses, and holding Xpress registration days—among a variety of other strategies to attract and retain students—the college knows there is more to do.
“Between the reports and recommendations that we sought out and what we looked at in comparison to what our peer institutions are doing, it was clear we are behind the curve from where we need to be,” stated Linda Blakey, vice president for Student and Academic Services.
“We need someone whose full-time responsibility is to provide direction and oversight of recruitment and new student enrollment.”
A new position of Associate Vice President of Recruitment and Enrollment will soon be posted.
“We’re looking for someone who has experience establishing enrollment goals and has a proven track record of achieving those goals,” Blakey said. “This position will instantly help us establish just what we need—a more data-driven approach to recruitment and enrollment.”
In addition, Arnett Chisholm, WCC’s current Dean of Admissions and Student Life, will move into a new position as Dean of Student Diversity and Inclusion.
“This will help us better serve, attract, and retain a larger percentage of our student population, and I am pleased that Arnett will lead this initiative,” President Bellanca said.
“Ultimately, we are viewing the enrollment challenges we’re facing as a real opportunity,” Blakey remarked.
“Having dedicated individuals focused on enrollment and student diversity and inclusion will help us more effectively serve our students. And that’s our number one priority; that’s what we’re here to do,” Blakey concluded.