“That has helped us maintain our growth overall because we do have a growing Beavercreek and Greene County presence,” Felder said.
The number of students enrolled in online courses also increased 11 percent and overall enrollment remained flat at about 5,300 students, Felder added.
“The online increase that we had, some of those would have been our traditional in-seat students; so we had more students taking classes online and we lost some enrollment to our traditional student that would come to campus,” Felder said. “That’s why with those increases we came out just slightly above flat from last year.”
In recent years, community colleges nationally have seen about a 3 percent dip in enrollment, said Kent Phillippe, associate vice president of research and student success for the American Association of Community Colleges. Enrollment spiked nationally at the height of the recession, as students sought additional training and students who may have enrolled at four-year institutions sought more affordable options, he said.
The enrollment figures nationally are starting to return to more normal levels, he added.
“While we do see a decrease in enrollment, we think it’s going back to baseline,” Phillipe said. “Looking at the longer trendline is important.”
Those trends are also being reflected across Ohio, where the economy has improved and potential students are increasingly looking to join the workforce, said Jeff Ortega, director of public affairs for the Ohio Association of Community Colleges. Community colleges also have opportunities to recruit other segments of students in the years ahead, as manufacturing firms and other industries increasingly seek graduates with technical training, he said.
“We feel that’s a space where community colleges will be particularly relevant,”Ortega said.
Clark State expects to see continued growth in its dual enrollment population as high school students increasingly seek to keep college costs down, Felder said.