College aims to reverse dramatic drop in enrollment
Student enrollment at College of the Redwoods and other California community colleges has dwindled dramatically in recent years along with course offerings due to cuts in state funding, according to a report released this week.
But CR officials plan to offer more classes this summer than the college has offered in the past three years in the hopes of boosting its enrollment. If more full-time equivalent students attend College of the Redwoods, the school stands to receive more funding, spokesman Paul DeMark said.
“It’s related to Prop 30,” he said, referring to Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative that voters passed in November. “It gives (community colleges) an opportunity to get more money if they get more full-time equivalent students by the end of this academic year.”
The Public Policy Institute of California released a report Tuesday detailing the impacts of $1.5 billion in budget cuts between 2007 and 2012 on California Community Colleges.
Student enrollment statewide dropped from 2.9 million to 2.4 million students, even though the number of high school graduates has increased, the Associated Press reported. Declines were sharpest among first-time and returning college students.
The Public Policy Institute also reported that the number of courses offered during academic years dropped 21 percent between 2007 and 2012 while summer courses fell 60 percent as campuses reduced their teaching staffs.
Student enrollment at College of the Redwoods rose steadily during the 2007–2008 and 2009–2010 academic years, peaking at 10,763 students in 2009–2010, according to the school’s Office of Institutional Research. Enrollment then fell steeply, to 9,600 in the 2010–11 school year and 8,560 in the 2011–12 school year.
At the Del Norte County campus, student enrollment peaked at 1,240 in the 2009–10 academic year before dropping to 1,056 in 2010–11 and 937 in 2011–12, according to the Office of Institutional Research.
“We almost mirror what the district has done,” said Anita Janis, dean of CR’s Del Norte Education Center. “I can tell you we’re looking forward to offering summer classes.”
The Del Norte campus will be offering 13 classes this summer, Janis said. She added that she hopes to add one or two more classes to the summer schedule.
Districtwide, CR will be offering 133 classes this summer, DeMark said. Last year the college offered 92 summer classes, and the year before it offered 81, he said. Although CR had more students in 2009–2010, it only offered 78 summer courses.
CR did take steps to boost enrollment for the 2013 spring semester to try to get the extra funding Proposition 30 offers, DeMark said. The college offered about 20 classes that started a few weeks into the semester, but the spring schedule was set by the time the initiative passed, he said.
“We were able to get some extra enrollment, but not as much as we could gain,” DeMark said. “That’s why we’re pushing the summer so much.”
CR’s efforts to boost student enrollment this summer comes as it prepares to reallocate faculty resources this fall to core curriculum courses students need to earn a degree or certificate. For example, CR plans to decrease the number of anthropology classes it offers while increasing the number of English, math, speech and biology classes, DeMark said.
The college is also looking into turning several music performance classes into community education courses, DeMark said. The classes are currently offered for one unit of credit, and can continue to be offered for credit to students who intend to major in music when they transfer to a four-year university, he said.
“A number of these are classes that community members like to play in (including) jazz band and concert band,” DeMark said. “They’ll still be a part of CR; there’s just a change in how we’re offering them for credit.”
For students who want to enroll in summer courses, one thing they should be focusing on currently is filling out their financial aid forms, Janis said. CR offers help sessions to assist students in filling out their federal financial aid forms. Students may be able to get money retroactively for summer courses and should fill out their films now to receive aid for fall classes, Janis said.
For more information on applying for financial aid, call CR’s Del Norte campus at 464-7457 or the college’s main campus in Eureka at 707-476-4100. Federal financial aid forms are available at www.fafsa.ed.gov.