Hocking College sign

Hocking College this fall semester is again touting an increase in students enrolled over the prior year’s fall semester, but more than a third of that total enrollment now consists of College Credit Plus (CCP) students (high school students taking college classes).

Hocking had 3,509 students as of the 15th day of the fall semester this year, compared to 3,471 students as of the same time last fall semester, Hocking said in a press release last week.

However, 1,382 of those students are CCP students who, on average as of last year, typically are taking just two classes at the college, according to Hocking College spokesperson Tim Brunicardi.

The community college in Nelsonville has struggled with declining enrollment since at least 2010, though in fall semester 2017 the college did report its first increase in enrollment in years, from 2,956 in fall 2016 to 3,391 in fall 2017. That was largely due to a major increase in CCP students. That CCP number shot up from 91 students in fall 2016 to 832 CCP students in 2017, and up again to 1,110 students fall semester last year.

During this same time, Hocking’s fulltime student numbers have declined up until this fall semester, from 2,043 in fall 2017 to 1,777 in fall 2018, increasing slightly to 1,792 this fall semester.

Brunicardi previously has stated that Hocking College has pursued the CCP students actively, noting that for one thing these programs help keep down the cost of college for students and that the college expects that some of the students will continue to take classes at Hocking after they graduate from high school because they’ve already “got experience with our curriculum.” While colleges are reimbursed by the state for each CCP student they enroll, these students often can be taking their courses at their high school, rather than on campus.

In a release from the college about these latest enrollment numbers, Hocking touted its efforts to recruit students in a nationwide climate where enrollment at community colleges has trended down in recent years. Ohio also has suffered from a declining trend in high-school graduates in recent years, which has affected community and traditional four-year colleges across the state.

“The enrollment increases are due to many factors including a host of new job-ready programs at Hocking as well as an effective content marketing strategy to provide relevant information including total cost to prospective students,” the release reads. “In addition, Hocking College is making sure all entering students are ‘seat ready,’ meaning that they have completed the FAFSA in a timely manner and have a way to pay for college. Throughout the summer, internships were offered to students to help them pay for their education.”

Hocking College President Betty Young said in the release that Hocking is committed to finding solutions to help students raise enough money to attend Hocking.

“Hocking College is committed to working with our Foundation to raise resources for students to earn funds to pay for tuition and the associated costs of college,” said Young, adding that Hocking College is offering up to $1,000 per-semester “work scholarships” to students.

The college estimated that 400 or so students did not enroll at the college this fall due to financial need, which Young called a “terrible loss to our communities who need a skilled workforce.”

The college also continues to struggle with its retention rate of students from spring semester to fall semester. About 59 percent of its students continued their enrollment from spring 2019 to fall 2019. Comparatively, 62 percent of students continued from 2018 spring to 2018 fall, compared to 67 percent continuing from 2017 spring to 2017 fall.

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