Things are looking up as Washington State Community College Board of Trustees heard from administration at its regular monthly meeting Monday that the shortfall in fall enrollment has dropped into the single digits now that summer is over.
With a piloted dual enrollment program that includes a tuition fee for participating schools administration expressed high confidence in the upcoming year.
"Having to find new seats and more faculty and open new sections are the kind of things we like to see," said WSCC President Bradley Ebersole. "It's a much better sense of pressure that we're enjoying."
JACKIE RUNION The Marietta Times
Freshman welding student Adam McKnight practices some cutting inside Washington State's new welding lab, which was opened for the fall semester this week.
With declining populations of traditional college-aged students affecting higher education enrollment across Ohio, WSCC planned for a smaller headcount going into fall 2014 than last year.
"We're now standing at 5.9 percent less (than 2013) in head count and 3.83 percent in credit hours," said Chief Enrollment Officer Amanda Herb. "This is phenomenal because we were in the double digits, but we saw a change over the summer."
A total of 1,334 students are at WSCC this fall for 15,363 credit hours, down from a 1,592 headcount from last year with 16,692 credits.
If you go
Washington State Board of Trustees
- Next regular meeting: 4 p.m. Sept. 15; location to be decided.
"But we have not yet completed dual enrollment," Herb said. "The number you see is only degree-seeking students."
Beginning this year, WSCC will be offering some 10 subjects of dual enrollment classes at Marietta, Fort Frye, Wolf Creek, Frontier, Morgan and the Washington County Career Center high schools so students can receive college credit, but this time, schools are coughing up a $37 fee per offered credit hour.
"We are charging because our (dual) enrollment is higher than it was last year. It took courage to do that so I'm glad we did it," Ebersole said. "But I'm confident that we're providing a quality program."
Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Nutter announced that some of WSCC's AmeriCorps college guides-recent college graduates who work with colleges to help new students transition-will be serving as success coaches for dual enrollment schools.
"A Dual Enrollment Committee is coordinating our overall work with the goal of building on past efforts to create a very strong, innovative program," he said Mark Nutter.
Ebersole noted that the college hopes to get remaining Washington County districts Warren and Belpre on board with classes, but said participation in the program is about as optimal as the school could ask for.
Washington State is also hoping to boost enrollment through the addition of more in-demand programs.
The school's new one-year welding certificate, previously just incorporated into industrial tech programs, comes with the school's new welding lab, which opened this week.
"We'll have class in here all week, for about two hours," said instructor Josh Horner. "Right now we're just waiting on students to get their equipment here so we can start."
More than $1 million in grants funded the welding lab, and though an original amount of $93,306 was set aside by the board in 2013, final amounts have not be approved until donations have been finalized.
Nutter also announced that pending board approval, WSCC will add a one-year Motorcycle Maintenance Certificate for 2015-2016.
"The curriculum for that program was developed over the summer," he said. "It will be reviewed by the College Curriculum Committee in the next two weeks, and we anticipate bringing it to (the board) for review and approval either in September or October."