Clark State enrollment levels off

Spike in enrollment during recession coming down

Clark State Community College saw growth in dual-enrollment and international students and at its Beavercreek campus this year, although enrollment overall this term is essentially flat, school officials said.

College officials were happy with the numbers considering many other colleges statewide have seen enrollment slip as the economy has recovered, said Jo Alice Blondin, president at Clark State.

“Community colleges aren’t upset by the fact that the economy is improving, but there is a national decline in enrollment and we haven’t experienced that,” Blondin said. “We are slightly above where were were this time last year, which is positive because most colleges experience a decrease in enrollment in the spring anyway and we haven’t done that.”

The college saw steep increases in the number of dual-enrollment and international students that helped keep enrollment flat overall, according to information from Clark State. Dual-enrollment students are high school students who also enroll in college courses. That number jumped 60 percent. The number of international students increased by 76 percent compared to last year, said Theresa Felder, vice president of student affairs and Greene Center operations for Clark State.

There has also been growth at Clark State’s Beavercreek campus, which is increasingly attracting students from Montgomery County as well.

“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.