written for The Argus Observer, published on March 31, 2015
Treasure Valley Community College jumped into spring quarter on Monday with an overall 8 percent decrease in their total full-time equivalent enrollment in comparison to last year’s count. Though the quarter has already started, students are still lined up to enroll and college officials expect the number to fluctuate within the next few days.
“We have been very busy today, so I’d expect the numbers to move,” said Paul Kraft, the college’s vice president of student affairs. “We don’t know if that’s students dropping classes, switching classes, or adding classes. It’s probably a combination of all of those.”
As of Monday, the full-time equivalent enrollment dropped 14 percent at the Caldwell campus and the number was down 6 percent at the Ontario campus.
Kraft said the enrollment numbers for the spring quarter are right where he expected them to be because the spring term usually reflects the other terms.
“What it tells us is that the enrollment for the entire year is holding down, of course we’d like it to go the other way,” Kraft explained. “It is having an impact on our budget and we’re having to adjust things accordingly, but it appears at this point that new student interest is up as far as applications and campus visits.”
Kraft said the college’s challenge is keeping students enrolled in classes, not necessarily attracting new faces to campus. Students drop out of college for a myriad of reasons. Some attend TVCC intending to only take a few classes and then move on to a different school, some can’t maintain the grades needed to keep scholarships and “some decide that college isn’t for them at this point,” Kraft explained.
“Much that I hear is that the reason student drop out doesn’t have anything to do with grades, it has to do with life,” Kraft said. “It has to do with too many other things competing with it.”
Kraft explained, over the past few years, colleges everywhere have seen their enrollment fluctuate.
“We saw a bubble move through here from 2008 to just recently, 2010 or 2012,” Kraft said. “We’re seeing this downward slide coming out of this bubble, but I’m hoping that this will stabilize.”
College officials attribute the high enrollment bubble to the downturn in the economy. Now that the economy has begun to slowly pick up, colleges are seeing their enrollment numbers drop.
“Graduating classes are getting smaller as the high schools around us struggle with their graduation rates and our local community colleges are going to feel that as well,” Kraft said. “Next fall will be an important term for us to see where we are after two or three consecutive years of slight downward motion. We hope that this stabilizes.”