Enrollment numbers might be down a little bit at Sampson Community College this fall, but that certainly should not — and in our view does not — diminish its great impact in this community nor define it as an educational institution.
It’s merely one of the many enrollment swings one sees, particularly at the community college level, and it is often a direct correlation to what is going on with both the economy and the unemployment rate.
When there is an economic downturn, as was the case back in 2008 and 2009, enrollment at two-year schools seemed to climb, a fact easily seen in the rise in SCC’s general student population. The same was true when unemployment numbers spiked during that same time period. As strange as it may seem, a bad economy usually means great numbers for community colleges.
When both those factors changed course, the reverse began to happen. Though hard to explain, an analysis of what’s occurred at SCC, or for that matter any other community college in North Carolina, shows a slow but steady decline in enrollment as the economy began to rebound and people began finding jobs again. That has been particularly true on the curriculum side.
It’s has not always been the case, however, with continuing education classes, where enrolled students participate in everything from GED and truck driving classes to photography and painting, among others. At SCC, those numbers seem to be growing, a testament to the myriad offerings available that seem to whet appetites across Sampson and beyond.
That’s what is so great about community colleges in general, and ours in particular. The courses offered reach out into the community and touch the lives of thousands of individuals, young and old, alike. And they meet the different needs.
Much the same can be said of curriculum offerings that include college transfer and two-year degree programs.
And don’t forget students that participate in the Early College, which affords those involved both a high school diploma and a two-year degree as part of the five-year program. Amazing things are happening at the Early College and students involved find a niche they weren’t able to carve out in the regular classroom setting of most high schools. While the Early College isn’t for everybody, for those involved it’s a priceless educational gem that has meant success for them.
That’s really true for any student at SCC, no matter whether they are involved in the two-year program, the transfer program, Early College education or Continuing Ed. People find their niche and, what’s more, they find success.
Don’t believe it, listen to nursing students talk about the educations they are receiving at SCC and the jobs awaiting them upon graduation. Talk to students involved in photography and art classes about the enrichment they receive, or potential truck drivers about the experience they gain and the jobs it affords them upon completion of the course.
At every turn, SCC offers those who attend a chance to grow and expand their horizons and find success among people who genuinely care about the educational direction they take.
While it’s true that SCC’s enrollment isn’t where it was a couple years ago or where, for that matter, administrators prefer to see it, that should not be a reason for anyone to look down on the college or those who work diligently every day to provide students every opportunity at success.
The enrollment numbers don’t reflect any of those aspects of the college’s grand and continuing legacy and it should not dissuade anyone from considering enrolling in the institution. The academic excellence within its walls continues, and those who attend will never regret the experience.