College experiencing lowest registration numbers in 10 years
by Chantele Fox, News Editor
Students may be noticing some differences around campus. Perhaps it’s the change in course availability or maybe the parking lot is not as full as it once was years prior. This is due to the decline of enrollment the college has been facing. As of Jan. 16, Schoolcraft reported a head count of 9,802 students, projecting a decline of -2.44% for the 2018-2019 academic school year.
Despite the College’s decline in enrollment, Schoolcraft is not the only community college faced with these shortcomings. During the 2016-2017 academic year Henry Ford Community College (HFCC) reported a headcount of 13,155 students, Washtenaw County Community College (WCC) 12,354 and Schoolcraft 11,333. Despite close enrollment numbers during 2016-2017, HFCC has reported a -5.37% decline for the current academic year while WCC reported only a -1.25% decline for the current year.
What affects enrollment
Demographics of the area surrounding a college are key factors in determining past, present and future enrollment. During the Welcome Back Breakfast with faculty and staff on Jan 11, Schoolcraft President Dr. Conway Jeffress and Director of Research & Analytics Michelle Stando discussed how the graduating class sizes of surrounding high schools have decreased between the years of 2007 and 2017. As a result, there are less students applying to colleges and universities upon graduation. In additionto the decreasing population of graduating high school students, affordability contributes to their decision to pursue the path of higher education with a percentage seeking employment versus education.
Moreover, these factors fit into a model known as the Enrollment Funnel, which consist of prospective students, inquiring students, applicants, admits and students enrolled. Prospective students refer to those individuals who are still in the process of determining whether to proceed through the enrollment process. As progression continues, that amount lessens to fewer individuals inquiring about the colleges and programs offered. Inquiring students are those to take the initiative to attend orientation, open house or gather information about programs of interest. The final component are those students who complete the enrollment process by accepting admittance and enrolling in courses. However, the underlying issue that only a fraction of prospective students reach this level remains.
Combating the problem
In an effort to better enrollment status, several strategies have been implemented, including the Strategic Enrollment Management plan, (SEM) which is coordinated amongst a team comprised of students and enrollment staff. Anyone who is interested in participating can contact Enrollment Services at 734-462-4683.
“We are very pleased with the progress of the SEM plan thus far, and we are very close to our goal,” said Stacey Stover, Dean of Enrollment Services at Schoolcraft College. Stover states that the primary focus of the SEM plan is retention and utilizing resources available to students. In order to do so, the office of Enrollment Services works alongside those working to improve retention and student success. Melissa Shultz, Associate Dean of Retention and Student Success, strives to ensure that students reach their highest level of academic potential by providing information about resources available to students on campus. These resources include: International Learning Support, Academic Success Coaching, and Peer Assisted Learning (PAL). For more information pertaining to support services available on campus, visit schoolcraft.edu/learning-support-services or stop by the Learning Center, Bradner Library or Testing Center.
Schoolcraft plans to continue to provide course flexibility to fit the schedules of its students. This will include the continued offering of Open Entry/Open Exit, online, morning, afternoon and evening courses. Courses will be continued to be offered on main campus, as well as both the Radcliff and Public Safety campuses. Furthermore, winter registration is still available to students. The deadline to register for 15 week classes is Jan. 23. It is important for students to note that once the first class meeting has passed, the option to register for 15 week courses is closed. Additional deadlines include registration for late starting courses, which ends Feb. 25 and Open Entry/Open Exit ending Mar. 7. For more information pertaining to the registration process please contact the Registration Office at 734-462-4426.
As Schoolcraft experiences the lowest rates in a decade, students are encouraged to become an inclusive participant in assisting the College in providing the most efficient and accommodating environment possible. Students can do so by utilizing various tools such as SC Aware or contacting the proper faculty or staff member in order to express suggestions, comments or concerns.
“Everyone is part of the enrollment process,” said Stover. “The purpose of any higher education institution is to provide the best level of education possible to its students, and here at Schoolcraft we are proud to be involved in the community as well… Students can use communication to spread the word about campus events, resources available and even help point new and prospective students to where they need to go if they need assistance.”