SLCC expanding programs amid enrollment drops

(Photo: Leslie Westbrook, The Advertiser)

Enrollment numbers at South Louisiana Community College don’t reflect the growth that college administrators say is happening on the campus.

After a Louisiana Legislative Auditor report released in December said that SLCC’s enrollment has decreased, The Daily Advertiser requested enrollment numbers from the community college, which merged with Acadiana Technical College in 2012.

SLCC’s eight Acadiana locations had a total enrollment of 14,084 students for the 2009-10 school year. That number dropped to 11,273 for the 2013-14 school year.

Final numbers aren’t yet available for the 2014-15 school year.

David Volpe, the school’s vice chancellor for student services, said total enrollment is not as accurate of a measure as the number of students enrolled in core curriculum courses, which attract more traditional, adult students pursuing degree programs.

Still, core curriculum enrollment for the 2009-10 school year came in at 11,146 and for the 2013-14 school year that number was 7,425.

RELATED: Notary prep class to start March 2 at SLCC

The 2014-15 core curriculum enrollment count is at 7,335. Volpe says that number would be higher, but college administrators recently stopped counting between 350 and 400 students who are enrolled in the nurse assistant and emergency management programs toward core curriculum enrollment numbers.

The 2012 merger of the community college and technical school also caused some of the number dips due to the consolidation or elimination of some programs and the shortening of others, Volpe said.

“When I look at numbers, I barely look at headcount,” he said. “I look at credit hours, and in credit hours, we’re growing.”

Although SLCC’s total credit hours for the 2009-10 school year came in at 157,494.5 and dropped to 114,331.0 for 2013-14, the preliminary estimates for 2014-15 show an increase to 118,845.0 total credit hours.

“That’s enormous,” Volpe said. “We’re doing better at getting new students in the doors, and we’re doing better at retaining. You have to give students the right courses on the right schedules so that they can stay here for four semesters and not just transfer out quickly.”

The college is currently recruiting for a new admissions director after Chris Stutes, who began the position a year ago, left last week.

SLCC also began a new initiative in the fall called “Fulltime is 15” to encourage students to take 15 credit hours per semester instead of 12 hours, which is the federal-aid definition of full time.

Students can graduate in four semesters instead of five by taking three extra credits – typically one extra course – per semester.

“The heads are just not the true measure in this realm of higher education,” Volpe said. “The credits and the number of graduates and all of that business is.”

The number of individual students who graduated or completed a program in 2010-11 was 2,812 compared to 1,903 in 2013-14.

Volpe says that some of the college’s growth can’t be realized on the Lafayette campus until another building can be constructed since classroom space is currently overbooked in the existing two buildings.

“We are growing,” Volpe said. “We are serving more students in a variety of ways, and we just look forward to it continuing. That’s the purpose of a community college, to be whatever we can be to the community.”

South Louisiana Community College enrollment

The Daily Advertiser requested enrollment numbers for the last five years at SLCC after a December audit mentioned the community college had seen decreases in enrollment.

YEAR FOR-CREDIT OTHER THAN HSDE (CORE) HIGH SCHOOL

DUAL ENROLLMENT

CONTINUING ED ADULT ED SLCC TOTAL
2009-10 11,146 2,250 688 0 14,084
2010-11 10,308 2,231 382 0 12,921
2011-12 9,618 2,004 273 0 11,895
2012-13 8,129 2,118 196 390 10,833
2013-14 7,425 2,404 308 511 11,273
2014-15 7,335 1,261 TBD TBD TBD

Source: South Louisiana Community College

South Louisiana Community College total core credit, completer and credential counts

SLCC administrators say that the true measure of success is not in total enrollment but in the number of core credits being taken and in the number of graduates. Adult and continuing education as well as high school dual enrollment do not count under the total number of core credits. The completer count is an unduplicated headcount of students who earned a credential at any level offered by the institution. The credentials awarded count all credentials awarded at any level by the institution, which includes students earning multiple credentials and therefore duplicated headcounts.

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15*
Total core credits 157,494.5 165,085.5 151,421.0 121,862.0 114,331.0 118,845.0
Totalcompleters Not reported 2,812 1,789 1,960 1,903 TBD
Total credentials awarded 3,744 3,735 3,907 2,705 2,804 TBD

* 2014-15 data not finalized

Source: South Louisiana Community College

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