Cleveland State Community College has followed the state trend, Vice President for Student Services Michael Stokes said.
Enrollment is “down about 5 1/2 percent compared to last year,” Stokes said.
“We’ve had five consecutive years of increased enrollment prior to this year, including all-time record enrollment the last couple of years,” Stokes said.
“Because community college enrollments tend to be cyclical, we’re not real surprised that we flattened out a little bit.”
“Our decrease is almost exactly the state average decrease,” Stokes said.
Twelve of the 13 community colleges in the Tennessee board of Regents system have seen a decrease in enrollment this year.
Stokes said enrollment in community colleges tends to increase when jobs are hard to get and decrease when jobs are more readily available.
“When jobs are not plentiful, people are more interested in coming back for additional training or education,” Stokes said.
Economic factors affect whether a student attends school closer to home, or looks to going straight to a four-year college or university.
Total enrollment comes in at 3,625 enrolled at the school.
While overall enrollment may have decreased, the number of recent high school graduates who have enrolled has increased over last year.
Stokes said this is due in part to the establishment of the bradleyAchieves scholarship program at the school.
Dual enrollment and online classes have also seen increases.
As dual enrollment courses grow in popularity, the college has seen a major increase in the number of students under the age of 18.
The college continues to develop programs to fit nontraditional students needs. Stokes said this might be a student population where numbers had decreased this year. Exact data for student sub-groups was unavailable. To cater to these students the college is developing more online and night classes.
Another factor that plays into enrollment numbers is graduation rates. Stokes said Cleveland State has had record graduation numbers for the past two years. Increased graduation rates have also been a trend at community colleges during the past few years. This is due in part to an added emphasis of graduating on time brought about by the Complete College Tennessee Act.