NorthWest Arkansas Community College enrolled 7,962 students for the fall 2015 semester, which was a decrease of 2.47% from fall 2014 figures but better than projected enrollment, NWACC officials announced Tuesday (Sept. 8).
Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson, NWACC president, expected enrollment to be down slightly given the better overall economy, but said the decrease was lower than previously anticipated 3% decline.
“I want to express my appreciation to the college community for working hard to attract, recruit and serve our students," Jorgenson said.
NWACC’s 7,962 students was the unofficial student census on Sept. 8, the 11th day of classes for the fall semester. That figure was down 202 students from the 8,164 unofficial head count on the 11th day in the fall of 2014.
The 2015 enrollment figure of 7,962 is still a preliminary number. Official eleventh-day enrollment numbers provided to the state Department of Higher Education in mid-October will not include students who may be auditing a class or who are enrolled in “late start” classes that begin after the traditional 16-week term kicks off.
The unofficial student semester credit hours count for fall 2015 is 70,074, a decrease of 3,590 credit hours compared to last fall’s 73,664 count, according to the release.
“College leadership made a concerted effort to budget conservatively when planning for the 2015-16 academic year, knowing that community colleges nationwide have been experiencing a decrease.” said Steven Hinds, executive director of public relations and marketing.
“Community college enrollments tend to be the opposite of the economy. When unemployment rates are low, people have more opportunities in the workforce and tend to take fewer courses like those offered by community colleges,” Hines added.
One area that has seen a robust enrollment growth is the number of high school students concurrently enrolled in college classes. This fall concurrent enrollment rose nearly 11% from a year ago. The unofficial 11th day number was 1,131, up from 1,019 last year.
The college also showed an increase in the number of sections of online classes being offered. This fall, the college has 273 distance learning sections, compared to 261 distance learning sections last fall.
The enrollment numbers do not reflect non-college credit services which are offered throughout the year in various programs. During the 2014-15 academic year, the college served approximately 6,000 additional learners through workforce development and adult education initiatives.