With strong programs and new online courses, Sampson Community College president Dr. Paul Hutchins is encouraged by what he sees going on at the college, and despite a small drop in enrollment, is hopeful about its future.
“Last spring, our unduplicated headcount for curriculum was 1504. This spring it’s projected at 1391,” reported Hutchins. “Also, last spring our FTE (full time enrollment) for curriculum was 592, and now it’s projected at 585.”
“Although those new numbers are a little lower, the data shows that we have a greater percentage of students going full time so I’m encouraged,” said Hutchins.
When asked about the factors contributing to the fluctuation in enrollment, Hutchins immediately mentioned the economy. “Traditionally, community college enrollment rises when the economy goes south. Now, it seems different. We may have students who are with us in the fall, but come spring, they may find a job and then choose to take no classes or not as many. It’s just part of being a community college. In talking with other community college presidents, no one is currently experiencing a tremendous increase in enrollment right now. The economy just has a large impact.”
Despite the economy’s adverse effects, Hutchins is pleased with how the college is enduring.
Looking over the projected numbers for this spring semester, Hutchins commented that there’s been an increase in the horticulture program. “Our nursing programs, the early childhood development program, the truck driving program, and our associate in arts program [usually for college transfer purposes] are also some of the ones that always have strong enrollment.”
The ammonia refrigeration program, which is the only one of its kind in North Carolina and one of only six in the country, is a relatively new program at Sampson Community College that is also doing well and has “tremendous industry support,” noted Hutchins.
“Enrollment in that program continues to improve, so again, we’re encouraged. We hope that within a few more years it will become self-supporting,” said Hutchins of the 3 year old program that came to SCC as a result of industry demands.
As current courses continue to grow, Hutchins shared that the college is also excited about starting new online courses for continuing education, the first ones offered at Samson Community College.
The “ed2go” online courses will be six weeks long with new courses beginning every month or so. Some of the courses offered include “Speed Spanish,” “Grammar Refresher,” “A to Z Grant Writing,” and “Computer Skills for the Workplace,” to name a few.
There will also be online courses specifically for teachers including “Survival Kit for New Teachers,” “Understanding Adolescents,” and “Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom.”
“These online courses provide enrichment; they can help people enhance their skills,” explained Hutchins. “For instance, those who are looking at going after promotions at work can benefit from courses like these.”
“Plus, they’re affordable [courses offered as low as $65] and it being online makes them so accessible,” added Hutchins.
The addition of online courses is a win for both the community and the college.
Hutchins explained that the “ed2go” courses will allow the college to offer more educational opportunities to community members while also helping the college with its enrollment numbers.
“We do hope to increase our FTE because the more we do that the more we buffer ourselves from budget cuts, some of which are dependent upon those numbers,” said Hutchins.
In the coming years, Hutchins does hope that the college can become an even better and more efficient “academic house,” but as he reflected on the college’s current state, Hutchins had nothing but praise for those who make the college what it is. “I’m very proud of the quality of our faculty and the instruction. Our students are getting an outstanding education. They leave here well trained and go on to become successful in whatever they choose to do.”
“I’m also impressed with the community’s support and recognition of the college everywhere I go,” said Hutchins. “People seem to realize how important the college is to this community and that alone means a lot.”
For more information about the new “ed2go” online courses, visit www.ed2go.com/sampsoncc.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at email@example.com.