Muskegon Community College exceeded its Fall 2021 semester target by 53 students with 3,695 students enrolled, including a nearly 20 percent increase in past/returning students compared to last autumn.
“The State of Michigan’s Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs have brought us an influx of students, including a large percentage who were enrolled at MCC in previous years and have now come back to MCC to resume their studies,” explained MCC Provost and Executive Vice President John Selmon.
“The pandemic caused people to rethink or start to think about their futures, so we are getting more students that want to change career fields or pick up another credential,” added MCC Director of Admissions Stephanie Briggs. “More companies are implementing apprenticeship programs for their employers and MCC is their institution of choice.”
MCC Registrar Aaron Richman noted that many students prefer face-to-face and on-campus classes.
“Around 50% of our Fall 2021 classes have a face-to-face component compared to only 22% in Fall 2020,” he said. “For students who were uncomfortable taking classes that were 100% online, they now have options to take face-to-face and on-campus classes.”
“Also, some student groups that could not enroll in heavy numbers last year due to the pandemic are now enrolling at a higher rate for Fall 2021, including dual-enrolled high school students, students receiving company sponsorships, and students participating in apprenticeship programs.”
Briggs pointed to MCC’s expanded recruitment reach and use of different social media platforms as another factor for the enrollment success.
“We have hosted more virtual events and programs to showcase the benefits of MCC,” she observed. Accessible as both Zoom meetings and Facebook Live events, these included Senior Visit Days, Adult Registration Days, Career Pathway Events, Admissions Q&A, Promise 101, Express Registration Days, and Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect Town Halls.
Looking ahead, Richman views the state’s ongoing support of its educational initiatives aimed at frontline workers and adult students as vital to those students completing their degrees.
“If the State of Michigan continues to fund the Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs, we hope that the students who have come to MCC for these programs will continue their enrollment for the next year or two as they are finishing their degrees,” he explained. “At the same time, this may help keep enrollment strong through the next couple years.”
He warned, though, that as the economy strengthens and more jobs are available, community college enrollment typically declines.
“If the economy and the availability of jobs continue their upward trajectory, it may be difficult for MCC to sustain its recent enrollment influx,” said Richman. “However, we have an aggressive Strategic Enrollment Management Plan that we are implementing through 2023. Our hope is that this plan will enable us to recruit and retain students as effectively as possible in the coming years.”