Enrollment down 28% since 2011 at AACC


Graphic by Mackenzie Airey

Enrollment has been declining since 2011, college officials say.

Christian Richey, Editor-in-Chief

Enrollment at AACC has decreased 28% since 2011, according to the vice president for learner support services.

According to Dr. Felicia Patterson, community college enrollment typically decreases when the economy is strong.

“Enrollment tends to be very cyclical,” Patterson said. “It increased significantly during the recession, which is quite typical for community colleges. … Many individuals will return to college to either gain additional skills or … to pursue their careers.”

Patterson noted that enrollment typically stabilizes after a recession.

But enrollments in all community colleges have been slow to pick up, Patterson said. And the college could lose more students as the number of high school graduates coming to college continues to decline, she said.

Patterson said some high school graduates may focus on finding jobs rather than going to college.

AACC has increased its outreach to high school students in response to the dip in enrollment, Patterson said.

Vice President for Learning Mike Gavin said the dwindling enrollments led the college to increase the size of online courses this semester. Offering fewer, fuller sections, he said, is saving the college money.

Increasing online class sizes allowed 100 students to enroll in courses they would otherwise not have had access to, Gavin said.

Gavin said the college saved $135,000 because it did not have to open additional sections of some courses to accommodate students on waitlists.

“Given the fact that we were so far down in enrollment … it was something that the institution [needed] to do in order to be fiscally responsible,” Gavin said.

Third-year history student Luke Vogel said the college seems emptier this semester than it has in previous years.

“I was here for … three years now and it’s a lot emptier than it used to be,” Vogel said.

Second-year biology student Nick Donnelly pointed to a downside of having fewer students on campus: less participation in clubs.

“I think the lessened enrollment means not a lot of people will be active in the social groups and in a lot of the student help centers,” Donnelly said.