Enrollment & Admissions

We provide a comprehensive look into some of the most important issues affecting enrollment and admissions. Get the latest news on declining enrollment across the country and the impact it has. Learn more about the latest trends in admissions requirements from vaccinations to placement tests. Find expert advice on what to expect your first year, and lean more about the pitfalls to avoid.
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When it became clear that the country was entering a protracted period of economic decline in 2007, traditional and non-traditional aged students alike flocked to nearby community colleges to undertake degree and certificate programs. Some sought to learn new skills in the hopes of retaining their current jobs, while others, laid off from companies tightening their belts, were in search of a completely new set of skills to make themselves more marketable.

As bad as the Great Recession was for many sectors of the economy, it was a boon for community colleges. From 2007 to 2011, the number of students enrolled at community colleges nationwide soared by almost 25 percent. Community colleges benefitted more from the recession than their four-year counterparts for several reasons. First, community colleges are far more cost efficient than four-year colleges and universities, with costs for tuition and fees just a fraction of those at their four-year counterparts. Second, community colleges typically offer more practical and vocational courses that can help students find employment in fast-growing sectors such as information technology and health care. These programs generally take two years or less to complete, therefore students can enter the workforce relatively quickly. Finally, community college is an attractive option for adults who have to work around family schedules and their occupations, because many community colleges offer evening, weekend, and online course options. Thus, when the employment outlook is poor, people can quickly reinvent themselves by obtaining a community college education.

Declining Enrollment

Recent data on community college . . . read more


While many community colleges across the country are bursting at the seams with their increasing enrollment numbers, California schools appear to be seeing the opposite trend. The largest community college system in the U.S. is currently experiencing a 20-year low in enrollment, leaving many scratching their heads as to the cause of the decline. As the system continues to struggle to lure students, many wonder if it is the higher cost, fewer classes or poor track record that is leaving these schools lacking for students.
 
The Student Shut-Out
 
According to a report at KQED, around 600,000 community college students have been shut out of the state’s system in recent years. Budget cuts that have led to fewer course selections have contributed to the student shut-out. In addition, KQED reports on recent findings in a report by the Public Policy Institute of California, which showed a total community college student population of 2.4 million during the 2011-2012 school year. That number marks a significant decrease in enrollment from the 2.9 million students enrolled in state community colleges during 2008-2009.
 
Sarah Bohn, the lead researcher for the PPIC report, told KQED the results were “troubling.” She makes note of the fact that fewer students are pursuing higher education at a time when California requires more skilled workers to beef up its high-tech industries. It is particularly concerning considering more students are graduating from California high schools than ever before, leading some researchers to wonder whether those high school graduates are attending any . . . read more

Community colleges across the country typically have open enrollment policies that allow students admission to the schools regardless of their academic performance in high school. In fact, many two-year schools don’t collect high school transcripts or standardized test scores before allowing students to enroll in classes. However, most of these schools do rely on standardized placement examinations to ensure students lacking skills to succeed in college get the help they need in remedial classes before moving on to college-level courses.
 
In theory, this system sounds like a good one. Students are assessed before they are placed in community college classes to ensure they possess all the skills necessary to achieve in higher education courses. Unfortunately the theory doesn’t always translate to an effective education process. In fact, recent studies have shown community college placement examinations may do more harm than good.
 
The Problem with Placement Exams
 
Last year, Inside Higher Ed reported on a study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The study found that up to two-thirds of the students placed in remedial classes after taking placement exams could have passed college-level courses with a grade of “B” or better without the remedial assistance. This study was significant, since remedial coursework has a detrimental impact on college completion rates at community colleges across the country.
 
At the time of the study, around six out of every 10 community college students were assigned remedial coursework before they could take college-level classes. Although students have . . . read more

Texas community colleges have seen a decline in enrollment numbers this year, which may be attributed to a number of factors. One of the potential reasons for the lower numbers may be a new mandate by the Texas government that requires college students to get a meningitis vaccination prior to the first day of classes. While some officials in the state are saying this mandate is the only way to prevent the spread of the deadly disease across college campuses, some college officials are attributing the expense and red tape of the process to fewer students on community college campuses this year.

 The Schanbaum/Williams Law
 
The new law was named for two Texas residents who contracted bacterial meningitis on college campuses. Effective January 1, 2012, the law requires all college students under the age of 30 to receive a meningitis vaccination at least 10 days prior to starting classes at any public or private institution of higher education. According to the Sacramento Bee, the law applies to all students heading to college for the first time or transferring from another institution. It also applies to students who have taken a semester break or more before returning to the college campus. Only students that can show proof of a meningitis vaccination within the past five years will be exempt from the requirement.
 
The law applies to any student taking classes on the college campus, whether or not they are living in campus housing. The bill was originally introduced as . . . read more

After a number of years of exponential growth seen at community colleges across the country, that trend finally appears to be waning. Some attribute enrollment declines to an improving economy, while others cite changes in federal legislation as potential reasons. No matter what the underlying cause of the shrinking numbers, one thing is certain: the community college flurry that occurred during the recent economic slowdown appears to be stabilizing.

Fewer Community College Students in Oklahoma this Year
 
Oklahoma is just one of many states seeing fewer community college students head to class this fall. According to a report at News OK, most of the community colleges throughout Oklahoma are reporting enrollment drops as the academic year gets underway. During the past decade, enrollment in the state’s colleges shot up from around 88,000 students in 2000 to more than 117,000 by 2010. Much of that growth – around 16,000 students – occurred during 2009 and 2010: the years of economic recession across the country.
 
College officials suspect the enrollment drop could be attributed to a number of factors, including an improved economy and changes to federal financial aid programs. When the economy slowed and unemployment increased, many displaced workers returned to school to retrain for new industries that were still hiring workers. As unemployment gradually stabilizes, many are now back to work and no longer in need of the additional training at this time.
 
Federal Programs May Contribute to Enrollment Decline in Michigan
 
A report in mLive indicates that . . . read more
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ENROLLMENT & ADMISSIONS