Seattle Central Unity Fair at Seattle Central Community College – Seattle on 2012-05-25 – _DSC1797.jpg, originally uploaded by laviddichterman.
In the Seattle Community College District enrollment is dropping across the system’s three campuses, a trend hitting closest to home at Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central Community College where Monday the 2013 spring quarter begins.
From 2010-2011 to the 2011-2012 years Seattle Central and its Seattle Vocational Institute component in the Central District combined have seen a drop in enrollment of more than 1,200 students. The 6% dip to 18,800 total students between the two institutions comes amid an improving economy and an ongoing population increase in the city.
Seattle Central specifically as of fall 2011 had about 9,600 students enrolled. The district has been watching these numbers carefully and say it has a “10-point plan” to address the dropping numbers.
“Our colleges formed an Enrollment and Marketing Taskforce last summer with representatives from Student Services, Instruction, and Marketing, with a goal of reviewing and improving the process of student enrollment – from learning about our colleges to getting into classes,” said Patricia Paquette, communications director for the district. Paquette and SCCD vice-chancellor Carin Weiss chair the Enrollment and Marketing Taskforce hoping to fill classrooms.
The group’s 10-point plan is broken up into four segments:
- A district wide advertising campaign, contacting students directly, increasing funding options, publicizing payment options, and adding and marketing courses mid-quarter. Perhaps you have already seen their ads on the 8, but if not it appears more are to come. Paquette tells CHS major facets of the plan will include, “email reminders to students who had applied and reminding them of deadlines
- Extending the tuition payment deadline and publicizing the tuition installment payment plan
- Increasing emergency funds and scholarships
- Adding compressed programs after the quarter had started to accommodate students enrolling later.”
The plan is centered on a group of major challenges including a “lack of awareness of educational opportunities,” students applying to the district but not enrolling and the increased cost of attendance.
A SCCC student will pay $106.84 per standard credit this quarter — a full load would weigh in around $2,166.
Despite the overall drop in enrollment, one student demographic has seen a massive increase. International students at SCCC have increased by 50% since 2007 representing 1,528 students according to 2011-2012 stats. The school is now deeply invested in the growth of this group. International students pay more than twice as much in tuition as in-state students and are also more likely to arrange housing through SCCC.
The school is working fast on creating a campus international center to meet this rising demand. The current international center housed next to Molly Moon on Pine will be relocating to a significantly larger space on the SCCC main campus taking over the former childcare center. The space is currently undergoing a complete overhaul.
This increased international enrollment has not gone unnoticed as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $3.5 million dollars to Seattle Central in order to “to increase digital, career, and college-readiness skills of adult English learners” according to a December press release.
The multi-million grant “means our colleges can develop innovative, technology-based tools to tap the potential of a growing and under-served population” said State Board for Community and Technical Colleges executive director Marty Brown in the release. The grant will go towards a pilot program called Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training which the release says “targets adult learners in the lowest three levels of English as a Second Language” and “will increase their English language, digital and career-readiness skills with fewer hours of instruction than those in traditional programs.”
In 2007 the district as a whole had 1,400 enrolled in telecourses. Telecourses are courses sent via the mail in the form of packets and returned to teachers as students’ progress. In 2007 about 6,000 students took online courses (this metric is for state funded students, not total headcount) with only 716 students taking online-in-person hybrid courses. A measurement for 2011-2012 saw telecourses drop to about 800, online courses up to about 7,000 (actually a drop since 2008), and hybrid courses continue to see annual growth, now reaching 2,409 students.