By TYLER SCOTT
Official numbers still aren’t yet available, but according to Matt Miller, Vice-President of Student & Community Relations for Mid-Michigan Community College, projections estimate that total student enrollment for this fall will decrease again, continuing a recent trend.
“Enrollment has been down for the last couple of years, and there’s good reasons for that kind of thing, so we’ve budgeted and prepared for it,” said Miller.
In the wake of the largest recession in decades, the economy finally seems to be looking up. This is one factor officials point to as a reason for the recent student decline.
A report from www.collegeboard.org illustrates that public two-year colleges saw a steady rise in full- and part-time students from 2000 to 2009, some of the worst years of the recession.
The labor force was struggling, and in the face of losing their jobs or needing retraining, roughly 1.5 million students seeking higher education flocked to two-year colleges across the nation, according to the report.
“(MMCC) doubled in size over the course of this 10-year span; we got very big very quickly, and we knew that wasn’t going to last,” said Miller.
True enough, the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers (MACRAO) accrues weekly enrollment updates for various colleges in the state. According to their most recent information, MMCC will experience approximately a 10 percent total decline in student headcount for the upcoming fall semester. This is based on a comparison in enrollment numbers for the same time last year.
However, MACRAO provides the disclaimer that its findings are not official enrollment totals for this upcoming semester. The aforementioned statistics were taken from a report generated on Aug. 6.
Despite the recent dip in enrollment, it was something that MMCC staff members predicted, and were able to successfully plan for without making major sacrifices.
“About 72 percent of our budget comes from tuition and fees,” said Miller, “but the enrollment fluctuation here recently has not affected our ability to carry forth most projects.”
Ultimately, the decline is no great cause for concern, and between economic conditions and decline in birth rates, it’s part of a natural cycle.
“There are kind of ebbs and flows over the years. Sometimes you get a little bubble, and right now we happen to be at the bottom of a trough,” Miller added, saying that, “Concern totally isn’t the right word.”