Enrollment at Central Oregon Community College has decreased by 4.8 percent, according to the annual enrollment report. This totals approximately 350 students, according to Ron Paradis, director of college relations at COCC.
“Enrollment at community colleges is incredibly hard to predict,” Paradis said. “This is something we had looked ahead and prepared for the possibility of an enrollment decrease within the budget.”
Community college enrollment nationwide has seen a decrease, according to Paradis.
“COCC’s enrollment decrease is actually very slight when looking at community colleges overall,” Paradis said. “The enrollment decrease is following a national trend, but ours has been small.”
One of the possible explanations for this decrease is an increase in employment opportunities in the community, according to Paradis.
“Many students who came during our big enrollment increase have finished up what they came for,” Paradis said. “There are students who went back to school when the economy was low and then graduated or who now have gotten jobs and would rather be out there working.”
Another reason for the decrease is the students who enrolled during COCC’s enrollment increase throughout the past five years have now graduated, according to Paradis.
“The graduation rates show that we are doing a good job with the students we have,” Paradis explained. “The fact that we had more graduating in the past years could possible help explain the [enrollment] decrease.”
While the overall enrollment has decreased, enrollment in certain groups have increased. Concurrent high school student enrollment has increased by 19 percent, according to the COCC annual enrollment report.
There are programs in Redmond and Gilchrist where students have the option of remaining in high school for a fifth year and are able to get college credits payed for that way.
“More high school students are taking advantage of the opportunities the state provides as far concurrent enrollment,” Paradis said.
This enrollment decrease is not of concern to the college, according to Alicia Moore, COCC dean of students.
“This is something we had previously prepared for and was accounted for within the budget,” Moore said. “The college has taken steps to make sure the enrollment won’t affect the college.”
Staff are looking at expanding recruitment for COCC, according to Moore.
“We are putting significant time and energy into recruiting,” Moore said. “We have new buildings and are working on ways to keep student success one of our top priorities.”
It is difficult to speculate whether the college will continue to see enrollment decrease, Moore said.
“Enrollment at community colleges is incredibly hard to predict,” Moore said.