Enrollment down, dual-enrollment up at West Shore Community College

February 21, 2019

VICTORY TWP. — Although overall enrollment is down this semester at West Shore Community College from what it’s been in past winters, dual-enrollment and online courses are on the rise.

The total head count is 1,021 students this semester, which is a decrease of 8.1 percent compared to winter 2018, according to the enrollment report Mark Kinney, WSCC vice president of academics and student services, presented to the college’s board of trustees Monday. Likewise, the total number of credits that students are taking this semester — 8,329 credits — swung downward by 9 percent.

Enrollment has been ebbing slowly in recent winters, down from a high of 1,311 in 2015, to 1,190 in 2016, then up slightly to 1,201 in 2017, then down again to 1,111 in 2018.

“This is down a little bit from where we have been in the past, but you’ll also notice ... it’s a statewide and actually a national trend (that) enrollment has been declining at community colleges. A lot of times that is connected to the unemployment rate,” Kinney told the board.

WSCC’s fall 2018 semester had an enrollment of 1,053, which was a 6.6-percent decline from fall 2017, the Daily News reported in September 2018.

At the state level, the average head count for Michigan community colleges is also down by 3.1 percent, and the total credits are down by 4.1 percent, according to Kinney.

“I wouldn’t say this is a complete surprise, but it’s still obviously something we’re working on closely,” Kinney added.

The number of dual-enrolled students — most of them high school students taking college-credit classes — has continually trended upward in recent years, Kinney said. This semester, 30.3 percent of students are dual-enrolled. Whereas in 2015, dual-enrollment was 20 percent of the student body, and in 2012, it was 16 percent.

“This is actually the highest we’ve had for a dual-enrollment count,” Kinney said. “That’s a significant portion of our overall population — over 300 students.”

Another trend that has increased in recent years is the number of online courses. This semester, 30 percent of courses are taught online, whereas in 2015 it was 20 percent, and in 2012 it was 15 percent. During the current semester, 58 percent of classes are taught face-to-face, and 12 percent are hybrid classes, using both online and face-to-face teaching.

“The online format is definitely something we’ve seen grow,” Kinney said.

Other statistics are consistent to prior years, including that part-time students make up 76 percent of WSCC’s enrollment, and 24 percent are full-time students; and that 66 percent are female and 34 percent are male students, Kinney said.

The liberal arts and sciences program has the most students — 332 — followed by 90 students in the nursing program, 48 in marketing and management, 34 in the medical assistant program, 31 in early childhood education, 29 in accounting, 28 in welding and 20 in criminal justice.

The WSCC student count by city is 310 students from Ludington, 189 from Manistee, 93 from Scottville, 63 from Hart, 42 from Bear Lake, 31 from Shelby, 28 from Custer, 25 from Pentwater and 240 students from various other communities.

Kinney said enrollment isn’t as low as it could’ve been for this winter. Originally the college was projecting an enrollment decline of nearly 18 percent overall, Kinney said, but deans, staff and faculty members put in an extra effort to reach out to former WSCC students, and as a result, many students decided to re-enroll.