Better economy weakens college numbers

April 8, 2013 Latest Print Print
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Those who forego a college degree may find it increasingly difficult to find lucrative employment in the future, said Planning and Research Executive Director Stu Harvey.

This advice comes on the heels of a report that shows OCCC has seen a 5.8 percent decrease in total headcount, with 12,990 students enrolled this spring — a down of 804 since spring 2012.

Harvey said the college is seeing a 7.6 percent decrease in the number of credit hours being taken this semester with a total enrollment of 110,929 credit hours — a difference of 9,109 since spring 2012.

Harvey said he hates seeing the numbers drop.

“It’s important for students to stay in school because more than 70 percent of jobs only require a high school degree, [but] that’s expected to go down to 38 percent in the next five years,” he said.

The college has held a consistent four-year annual enrollment increase since 2009, with the peak enrollment in 2012 at 22,582, according to the college website. Harvey said there are a variety of factors that influence a decrease in enrollment.

“I think it’s complicated,” he said. “I think one of the factors is largely the economy … Our online sections are down, which is unusual.

“I think it’s premature to comment until we get to analyze that.”

Harvey said the economy is partly to blame for the decrease When the economy is doing better, he said, enrollment tends to decrease and vice versa. He said the enrollment decrease is not necessarily unexpected.

“We always like more students to come,” Harvey said. “I think it’s something that is in the nature of things.We’re much more sensitive to the economy than more selective institutions.”

He said the economy affects the number of older students attending OCCC.

“Some of our adult enrollments are down which is a good indicator, too, because what happens is people still want to go to school but they will cut back their hours.”

Harvey said the final enrollment numbers are still subject to change so the current numbers are estimations at this point of the semester. To see the college’s planning and research reports, visit www.occc.edu/planningresearch.

For more information, call Harvey at 405-682-7849 or email sharvey@occc.edu.

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