Curriculum enrollment at Sampson Community College may be down compared to the same time last year, as it is across the state, but school personnel are working to increase that number through new programs and hiring a recruiter.
In their efforts to increase enrollment, college officials say they are working to provide top notch educational programs for students and the community as a way to bring those numbers up.
According to Amy Noel, Dean of Student Services, curriculum enrollment for the fall of 2015 was 1,351 students, which is slightly less than the 1,443 who enrolled in fall 2014, around a 4 percent decline. While student enrollment at the college seems to be in a downward slump, the silver lining is that a decline in enrollment often means the local workforce is growing.
“Employment rates have historically been a primary indicator of enrollment trends,” Noel said. “Preliminary 2015 employment data for Sampson County shows the projected unemployment rate in the county trending to decline from 2014.”
As more working adults obtain gainful employment, Noel said fewer people tend to pursue education and training opportunities. This, she added, has resulted in a statewide enrollment decline across the community college system as a whole.
Dr. Paul Hutchins, SCC president, agreed.
“It’s not just SCC who is seeing a decline in enrollment,” he said. “There are a number of community colleges in the state that have seen a drop in numbers.”
Because SCC and other community college students are commuter students, Hutchins said the college is at their whim more than any other postsecondary institute.
Noel and other school officials, however, aren’t letting the growing workforce stop them from recruiting students and bettering the educational opportunities afforded to them by the college.
Over the fall semester, Noel said SCC expanded recruitment activities in an effort to see enrollment stabilize.
“For the first time this fall, the college dedicated a career specialist, Perry Gillespie, to work with students in local high schools,” Noel shared.
According to the dean, Gillespie spends one day a week at each of the local high schools, helping students learn more about current and postsecondary educational opportunities.
“As a result of these activities, there has been an increase in the number of students seeking to enroll in career and college promise pathways while working toward high school graduation,” Noel advised. “This is a tremendous benefit to students and families who take advantage of tuition-free college education that leads to employability credentials or transfer opportunities.”
Further, Noel said there have been several students to complete vocational and technical certificates while still in high school. Many students also earn college credits toward a two-year or four-year degree. In some instances, as many as 18 college credit hours have been earned by the time some students graduate from high school.
This fall, according to Noel, the college started a new Human Service Technology program.
“We are seeing an increasing interest in this diverse program that leads to employment in a variety of fields, including mental health, social services, and rehabilitation services, among others,” Noel said.
SCC, both Noel and Hutchins said, is a great choice for student learning.
“As a small college, we can engage with students in a way that is meaningful and significant,” Noel added. “Faculty not only know students by name, but they know who students are and what they want to do. Our students consistently say the level of attention they receive both in and out of the classroom, makes all the difference to their overall success. They know that the people here genuinely care and want to see them succeed.”
“We have a great school and great faculty,” Hutchins said. “We do our best to provide the students with what they want and need for a successful career.”
According to Noel, registration for the spring semester will be held Jan. 5 from 9 a.m – 1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. Students who have not completed admissions and are interested in enrolling for the spring should contact the SCC admissions office as soon as possible, before the college closes for the holidays this Friday.
For more information, visit the college’s website at www.sampsoncc.edu or call 910-592-8084.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.