Classes are back in session at Sampson Community College, but as of Tuesday, enrollment numbers appear to be down, for the second year in a row.
According to Amy Noel, Dean of Student Services, Monday was the first official day of classes for students, and enrollment in the curriculum classes appears to be down from last year’s fall semester.
General student enrollment, as of Aug. 18, is 1,361, which Noel said is less than the approximately 1,443 who attended in the Fall of 2014 and 1,540 who attended SCC in Fall 2013.
“Our enrollment numbers are down slightly from last fall,” Noel stated Tuesday morning.
According to Dr. Paul Hutchins, president of Sampson Community College, seeing the students register last week was an exciting process, but he would like to see the number of students rise.
“It is wonderful to see the steady flow of new students coming onto campus to complete the registration process for the fall 2015 semester,” Hutchins said about registration last week. “The entire faculty and staff at Sampson Community College are excited to get the Fall semester underway.”
The enrollment total could change before the week’s end.
“These numbers are still a work in progress,” Noel stated. Final numbers for enrollment will not be complete until sometime at the beginning of next week. However, Noel said she still anticipates numbers to be down.
According to Noel, students are allowed to change their schedules and add classes until the class meets for the first time. By this Friday, she added, all classes will have met at least once. Therefore, the enrollment will not change after that date.
During the economic downturn which began a few years back, enrollment numbers increased, which Noel said is directly related to the economy.
The downward trend of late, however, isn’t really a surprise, college officials said.
Noel said the enrollment numbers at surrounding community colleges appear to be headed in the same direction as those at SCC.
“Community colleges, statewide, have seen a gradual decline in enrollment over the last few years,” Noel said. “Luckily, we have more people entering the workforce since the economy is bouncing back.”
Some of the larger community colleges, such as Pitt and Wake Tech, are feeder schools for the larger institutions. Their enrollment numbers normally increase. For many of the smaller institutions like SCC, administration isn’t so lucky.
Over the last few years, Hutchins added, the enrollment numbers at Sampson Community College have flat-lined and remained about the same.
One of the reasons, Noel said, for the decline can be found in job numbers that show more people in Sampson are being employed than a few years back. While increased employment is a good thing, Noel said it does bring their enrollment numbers down when people return to the workforce.
Another reason, according to school officials, is due to the fact that the cost of taking classes appears to be more than many residents are able to afford. Once those students withdraw, the college is left with students who receive financial aid, scholarships, third-party help or are a part of the early college program.
Hutchins said he and the staff at Sampson Community College work hard to make achieving an education as easy as possible for the students.
“There are really good things happening here at Sampson Community College,” Hutchins said. “Our staff works hard to ensure our students receive a great education.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.