Illustration by Daeg Hamilton
By Michael Kehoe
Enrollment at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) has been on a steady decline over the past couple of years. Each semester, the campus gets a little bit more barren and the classes get a little bit more vacant.
As of October 2, 2018, 4Cs is at a 7% drop in enrollment campus-wide from the previous semester. This comes right on the heels of an 8% drop in the 2018 Spring semester, and a 3% drop in the Fall of 2017.
“We have faced some enrollment challenges over the past few years, but we continue to put forth strategies that focus on recruitment, retention and completion,” said Christine McCarey, 4Cs’ Dean of Enrollment Management and Advising Services. “If you take a look across the state and throughout the country, colleges and universities are facing similar challenges with enrollment.”
Further figures for the Fall 2018 semester were unavailable at this time. However, taking a look at this past spring, the significant drop off in recent years has come in the form of teenage students, or lack thereof. In the fall of 2017, there were 73 students enrolled at 4Cs under the age of 18 and 660 student’s ages between 18 and 19, according to McCarey. Just a few months later in the 2018 spring semester, only 22 students under the age of 18 were enrolled at the college and the number of students aged 18 and 19 dropped down to 298.
“The 18-24 year old demographic is shrinking on the Cape, so we have to prepare to improve enrollment in different ways,” said 4Cs’ Dean of Learning Resources and Student Success David Ziemba. “We need to take a long look at other ways to get new students here, like adult education classes and offering more online courses.”
The college is making an attempt to bring back more teenage students with its dual enrollment program. Dual enrollment is open to any high school student who is a resident of MA and who, according to the 4Cs website, “has a GPA of 2.5 or demonstrates their potential for academic success through submission of evidence of steadily improving high school grades, high class rank, special talent, strong grades in the field of the CDEP course, strong recommendations, etc.”
This semester, the college has 128 high school students from over 15 different schools, said McCarey. Of those 128 individuals, 72 of them are enrolled in three or more courses. 4Cs’ “Early College” program with Bourne High School currently has 21 students enrolled full-time at the college as they work towards earning both their high school diploma and an associate’s degree.
“We have talked about a lot of basic strategies to boost enrollment, but the main thing we want to do is to keep the students informed,” Ziemba said. “We want to make sure that students are advised properly on which classes they should take and we really want to encourage things like new student orientations to keep people interested in enrolling.”
Another effort by the college to improve enrollment during the ongoing semester is the “Walk-in Wednesdays” policy. Prospective students who show up to 4Cs on a Wednesday are provided with on-the-spot assistance in admissions, financial aid, testing, and advising. Advisors at 4Cs will also be proactively reaching out to students from the fall semester, based on classes they are taking that are pre-requisites for classes available in the spring. Additionally, employees of the college will be contacting students that applied to 4Cs in the fall, but did not actually enroll for the semester.
“With the Spring 2019 schedule posted and registration open for current students, our faculty and staff are focused on advising students and helping to ensure students get the courses they need before the close of the semester,” said McCarey. “Each enrollment period, we focus on refining our processes to ensure that students get the support they need. Our goal is to make the enrollment process easy to follow to minimize any road blocks students may have.”