enrollment bw

Photograph by Cassie LeBel

By James Flett

Enrollment at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) has been in a steady decline over the last few years. There are currently just under 2,900 students enrolled at 4Cs, according to preliminary numbers provided by Dean of Enrollment Management Christine McCarey. This number includes dual enrollment as well as online students.

The college is currently working on projections for next semester. Most colleges have a key demographic of people ages 18-24, which they can rely on to keep a steady stream of new and returning students. In the fall of 2018, there were 1,620 students under the age of 24, 938 of these students between the ages of 20 and 24. This means that the school is mainly attracting its targeted demographic, however with the declining number of young people on the Cape, the college may have to adjust its marketing strategies to target older students.

McCarey declined to provide the preliminary percent for Spring 2019 enrollment.

“We continue to develop and assess strategies to help enrollment and retention,” said McCarey, when asked how 4Cs plans to improve their enrollment rates. “We have employed several strategies this year, including Walk-in Wednesdays, information sessions, the Early College Program with Bourne High School, and the Pathways Program.”

The Pathways Program brings in around 200 high school students to the 4Cs campus each year. This program, paired with the ECEP, is working to target the 18-24 age demographic before they even reach that age category.

McCarey also stated that the school is also working to develop a program showcase that will be open to the public.

“Nationally, enrollment has been declining for the past several years,” said McCarey. “There are several factors that contribute to an enrollment decline, such as changing demographics and the economy to name a couple. We need to continue to be nimble in our efforts to enroll and retain students.”

Other college officials say that the enrollment decline has already had an effect on the budget.

“Because of the enrollment decline, the administration is trying to balance the budget by leaving some vacancies unfilled on a temporary basis,” said Dean Dave Ziemba.

The statement that the economy may be related to the decline in enrollment has merit. According to the Collage Board, between 2008-09 and 2018-19 the average published tuition and fee prices rose by $930 at public two-year colleges, by $2,670 at public four-year institutions and by $7,390 at private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities.

“Our focus remains on preparing our students for graduation, transferring to a bachelor’s degree institution, or heading out into the workforce,” stated McCarey. “We continue to initiate, build and maintain partnerships with our K-12 community and local community organizations to create enrollment opportunities for our students.”