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Enrollment Increases at Umpqua Community College

10:22 PM · Jan 11, 2023

The fall semester at Umpqua Community College was characterized by a bustling atmosphere, with crowded walkways and lively student activity areas. This was reflected in the enrollment numbers, which saw a significant 18% increase, bringing the total number of students in attendance to 4,505 by the end of the term. The total undergraduate credit student headcount increased by nearly 9% to 2,157 credit students, which marks the largest attendance since the pandemic began. Enrollment has increased across all programs, from associate degrees that transfer to universities to shorter-term certificates in career-ready pathways like truck driving, welding, and phlebotomy. New programming for high school students in automotive, theatre, and emergency services are also contributing factors to the increased enrollment as well as courses developed especially to serve local employers like the leadership boot camp program. “It’s great to see our numbers rebounding because each of those increases represents a life changed and increased economic success for Douglas County,” said UCC President Rachel Pokrandt. “We expect to see our impact increase as we add medical and technical trades programs in the coming years.” This increase in attendance is attributed to the campus reopening and being accessible to the public following state of Oregon mandates to close face-to-face teaching and operations for an extended period during the pandemic. While the total headcount of community college students in Oregon decreased in 2022, UCC saw an increase in the total number of students and the number of full-time equivalent students according to a report from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. The college is not yet to pre-pandemic levels, but Jim Pittman who is the Vice President of Student Services at UCC is encouraged by the increase. “The school's atmosphere is wonderful!” Pittman said. “Part of this is the increase in enrollment and part of it is just having students back post COVID restrictions. Like many institutions of higher education, we have not had a "normal" term since pre-COVID. Having students, and more students, back on campus brings energy and vibrancy to campus that we have not seen for a couple of years.” Overall, enrollment at community colleges has been declining since at least 2012 according to the Oregon Employment Department. Every community college in Oregon saw a decline between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. Of the 17 community colleges in Oregon, UCC was one of 10 to see a stabilization or increase in enrollment this year. “Our goal and mission is to raise and support the community and we do that by getting people into programs and classes,” Pittman said. “Every community member we can help get a better job or help in their goal to continue their education is a win for UCC. Yes, it means more students needing help, more questions to answer, more applications to process, but those are all wonderful "problems" to have and why we are here. Times when students are away get old really fast and we are always ready for them to come back well before the term starts again. The students are why we are here and what we love about our jobs. I would absolutely love to see enrollment continue to increase and force us to relook at how we need to do things to support ever greater numbers. Again, it would be a great "problem" to have to solve.” While the economy may look grim for a myriad of reasons, a study done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that “two-year schools saw an increase in enrollment during the [2009] recession, while four-year schools maintained consistent numbers throughout.” UCC is a resource for community members to earn transfer degrees for a four-year university, learn new skills, earn a certificate to advance a career goal, or earn an associate degree for a new career. They also host programs for high school students and the Maple Corner Montessori elementary and middle school programs. Learning never stops at UCC. Links to reports cited https://www.oregon.gov/highered/research/Documents/Student/Fall%20enrollment%20data.pdf https://www.qualityinfo.org/-/pandemic-enrollment-declines-at-oregon-community-colleges https://www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/the-surprising-effect-of-the-recession-on-community-college-enrollment Photos courtesy of UCC Communications & Marketing Department.

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