Enrollment drops

Although the Pierce campus seems bustling, one wouldn’t expect that the campus has hundreds of students less than previous years.

At Monday’s academic senate meeting, Professor of Sociology and Senate President Anna Bruzzese said that student enrollment at Pierce College has declined.

“College enrollment was down about 4.3 percent last fall,” Interim President Larry Buckley said. “Our goal is to not fall any further, maybe get a little higher right now between 99 and 100 percent of a year ago.”

While the exact cause is hard to pinpoint, Buckley and Angela Belden, instructor of psychology and senate treasurer, agreed a stronger economy is a reason for the drop in enrollment.

“Part of it is that there’s low unemployment, and very often college enrollments go down when unemployment is down,” Buckley said. “So I think it’s a little bit of a misnomer to say that we’re really down this semester. We’re kind of flat compared to last year.”

Another possible reason for the enrollment drop could be the hurdles students face to get enrolled in the first place according to Belden.

“I think that there are some things that create enrollment barriers for students,” Belden said. “Like our not-friendly website, or our list of 141 majors that are not in alphabetical order. Those kinds of things create unnecessary enrollment barriers for students.”

Buckley does not think this the enrollment drop is a cause for concern at this moment.

“It means that we just have fewer people to learn with,” Buckley said. “Maybe it affects clubs, maybe athletics a little bit, but we’re talking about 600 students out of 20,000. It’s not a big, big impact.”

Bruzzese said that improving the campus’s facilities as well as a better outreach program could be a solution to the low enrollment numbers.

 

“Better marketing, maybe improved infrastructure on campus, better technology and Wi-Fi, cleanliness of the campus even,” Bruzzese said. “I mean all these things matter in terms of if this is an inviting campus for students.”

Pierce has already taken steps to try and bring enrollment back up, according to Buckley.

“We have added a lot of late start classes for the fall,” Buckley said. “We have new curriculum that’s non-credit including in tutoring and that’s improving enrollment as well.”

While an enrollment drop is is not ideal, Buckley said there can be positives that come from it.

“If there’s anything that is a positive out of it, it gets us as a college administration and faculty looking at what we can do in the classroom and the curriculum programs to retain students,” Buckley said.