Despite record enrollment at the state’s four-year colleges and universities, initial numbers show enrollment at community and junior colleges is down this year.
Enrollment at East Central Community College in Decatur dropped almost 9 percentage points, from 2,602 on the 10th day of the fall semester in 2015 to 2,379 on the same day this year. On the other hand, Meridian Community College grew by 6.4 percent from 3,388 to 3,606 students. Hinds, the largest community college in the state, grew a little over one percent.
“Since the Great Recession, when our system experienced record enrollments, we have seen the number of students taking classes at a community college begin to normalize,” Community College Board spokesman Kell Smith said in a statement. “Furthermore, approximately 70 percent of community college students are enrolled in academic programs that will allow them to transfer to a university to continue their education.”
Smith also pointed out that the increase in the number of high school students taking dual credit and dual enrollment courses.
“Once these students earn their high school degrees, they have a significant number of hours on their transcripts and are moving directly to the university,” he explained.
Meridian Community College Dean of Student Services Soraya Welden said the 6 percentage point jump is due mostly to part-time students and those in the college’s dual enrollment/dual credit program. Dual enrollment and dual credit programs allow high schoolers on track to graduate who meet certain academic requirements to take college courses. The number of students in that program at MCC increased from 282 students last year to more than 400 this year in a school of approximately 3,600.
Welden said their number of full-time students also increased by about 2 percent.
Eleven of the 15 community colleges experienced decrease in enrollment ranging from .2 percent at Southwest to 8.6 percent at East Central.
Overall, the number of community and junior college students dropped by just under one percent.
Community college fall 2016 enrollment
Coahoma: – 0.8 percent, 2,191 students
Co-Lin: – 2.2 percent, 3,075 students
East Central: – 8.6 percent, 2,379 students
East Mississippi: – 6 percent, 4,261 students
Hinds: + 1.3 percent, 11,505 students
Holmes: – 0.9 percent, 6,176 students
Itawamba: – 1.2 percent, 5,833 students
Jones: – 0.3 percent, 4,749 students
Meridian: + 6.4 percent, 3,606 students
MS Delta: – 4 percent, 2,372 students
MS Gulf Coast: – 3.7 percent, 9,294 students
Northeast: – 1.2 percent, 3,524 students
Northwest: + 1.2 percent, 7,894 students
Pearl River: + 1.5 percent, 4,725 students
Southwest: – 0.2 percent, 1,897 students