Hocking College Enrollment May Stabilize, OU Numbers 'Look Positive'

By
Arian Smedley - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Tue, Aug 27, 2013 12:13 pm

One year after transitioning from quarters to semesters, Hocking College is showing signs that it may be stabilizing from its enrollment loss last year. Ohio University, which didn’t lose many students in the transition, may see a slight increase.

As of Aug. 22, Hocking College had 3,515 students enrolled for the Autumn session — that’s 70 students more on the same day last year.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Carl Bridges, provost and vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. “We usually see a large number of returning students come back during the first couple weeks of classes.”

Hocking doesn’t start until Sept. 4, and students have until Sept. 6 to enroll, explained Bridges.

Official enrollment data is calculated from the 15th day of class. Bridges expects to present his final Autumn enrollment report at the trustee’s September board meeting.

Last year, the college lost 1,300 students compared to the previous year. School officials tied the hit to the transition from quarters to semesters. The drop resulted in an estimated $4.3 million deficit and 23 job cuts.

Hocking College wasn’t alone. Enrollment had dropped by nearly 13,500 students at 17 Ohio colleges and universities that began using a semester schedule last fall, according to the Associated Press.

Jeffrey M. Ortega, director of public affairs for the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, said early enrollment numbers suggest many colleges may be experiencing a natural rebound.

“It appears that enrollment at many of our institutions is stabilizing after last year when several institutions transitioned to semesters from quarters,” Ortega said. “This seems to fit the pattern that when institutions go through a conversion to semesters from quarters that there is a dip in enrollment in the first year, typically, and then enrollment stabilizes as the semester system becomes established.”

Ohio University saw a small decrease after the transition. The university saw 17,302 enroll in the fall of 2011, when it was still on the quarter system. In the fall of 2012, the first year of semesters, 17,007 enrolled.

Although the university did not have enrollment figures to share, Craig Cornell, vice provost for enrollment management, said freshman and transfer student numbers “are looking very positive.”

Cornell said his early estimates come from looking at housing deposits and the number of students going through orientation. OU’s first day was Monday.

Cornell expects to have an official enrollment report by Sept. 2, during the university’s next board meeting.

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