10/01/17 — WCC enrollment is down versus previous years

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WCC enrollment is down versus previous years

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 1, 2017 1:45 AM

Fall enrollment at Wayne Community College is down two and one-half percent from last year, but those are just preliminary numbers, President Thomas Walker Jr. told the board of trustees Tuesday night.

By the end of the fall semester in 2013, the college boasted 4,041 students. That dropped to 3,560 one year later, in 2014, and again in 2015, to 3,509.

Last year's total came in at 3,386 and currently the enrollment is at 3,301. The latter, however, is not a final tally.

"I think it's important for to know where we are right now in enrollment," Walker told the board. "We will actually at our next meeting, I will take a deep dive with you to understand some of the numbers in terms of what our program costs are as opposed to what they're yielding in terms of students.

"But overall, currently we're about two and a half percent down from where we were at the end of the fall last year."

The president said that a more inclusive number will be provided, since the Fall II term has not yet started at this point.

"I am hopeful that we can kind of try to pull even to where we were last year," he told the board. "I can tell you in context most of my peer institutions are suffering much more dramatic enrollment drops."

Out of 58 community colleges in the state, he said those with increases were much smaller in size than WCC, hovering below 800 students.

He suggested that the dip, at least in part, can be attributed to the economical climate.

"I think most community colleges in terms of enrollment are wrestling with an economy that, even though they're not high paying jobs, people can get a job," he said. "And people are making decisions -- do I just live check to check, or do I try to invest in education?"

Walker said the college is targeting those in the service area of the college, reaching beyond the traditional high school students and attempting to provide options for the working poor, those that are working two part-time jobs.

"I really do believe we have a large market that we haven't tapped into," he said. "We're trying to build evening programs and eight-week programs and other types of programs and track that market."

One area where enrollment is growing, though, is the workforce continuing education services, which includes such programs as public safety, allied health and advanced manufacturing.

The summer sessions have been quite robust, Walker said. In 2015 it was at 1,761 students, jumping to 2,322 last year. This year's enrollment was 2,303.

Adrienne Northington, executive director of the WCC Foundation, gave a report on the scholarships provided at the college thus far this semester -- 270, totaling over $203,265. The financial awards covered tuition, books, tools and continuing education classes. Follett Bookstore also donated an additional $5,000 to the Foundation for book scholarships, she added.

The board also approved a Level-On Instructional Service Agreement renewal between WCC and Wake Technical Community College.

"We've been involved with them since 2011 and this collaboration allows us to serve Spanish-speaking students," explained Dr. Gene Smith, vice president. "They're taught in Spanish and this helps to prepare them to take the GED or high school equivalency exam in Spanish.

"Once they take their exam and get their high school equivalency, we then gain credit for their graduation here. Classes are taught by Wake Tech on our campus. We provided them the classroom space two nights a week. Over the last six years we've served 181 students and of that, 170 have graduated."