Enrollment numbers drop despite increased projection

Anthony O’Connell
Staff Writer

img_1186Isaac Kautz|The Hudsonian

Hudson Valley has experienced a 2.6 percent decrease in enrollment this year, but is taking steps to increase headcount.

“HVCC had a record 14,011 students enrolled in 2010, when the country was coming out of the recession. As the economy recovered and the job market in the area started to improve, our enrollment started to decline, which is a trend for community colleges across the nation,” said Dennis Kennedy, director of communications and marketing.

During hard economic times when the job market is bad, community colleges tend to see an increase in enrollment due to lower tuition rates, as opposed to four-year universities with higher tuition rates.

On average, community colleges nation-wide have seen a three percent decrease in enrollment, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

“Every year, the college makes projections on what enrollment will be, and essentially, that is a budgeting tool. We need to come as close as possible to our projection to fund our budget, which funds all the service operations of the college,” said Kennedy.

The enrollment projection for this semester was 11,921 for the total headcount, which is actually an increase from the 11,888 actual headcount for the fall 2015 semester.

However, around this time last year when enrollment figures were reported on Sept. 21, 2015, there were 10,339 students enrolled as opposed to the 10,066 figure that was calculated as of Sept. 19 this year.

The difference in the total headcount for fall 2015 and the Sept. 21,2015 numbers, according to Kennedy, is the result of rolling enrollment. In mid-October of this year, the final enrollment numbers will be reported for fall 2016, but right now, the college in the high school program and sprint students are still being registered.

Kennedy continued, “We’re slightly off this year, but in general, we’ve come pretty close. So that allows us to stabilize student tuition and prevents us from making any dramatic cuts from programs or services. Essentially, meeting the projection keeps the college running smoothly.”

Enrollment was also a major theme of President Andrew Matonak’s speech at the All College Meeting.

“Our business process review is another major effort to move the needle on enrollment and become more student-centered, efficient and easier to do business with,” said Matonak.

“We’re working with a California-based consultant called Strata Information Group [on the business process review],” Kennedy said. “They came on campus and conducted a series of workshops with faculty, staff, department chairs and administrators of the college, to dissect individual processes and provide recommendations for how we can do better. Ultimately, with the goal of creating a more student friendly and efficient process.”

One of the major recommendations that Strata gave Hudson Valley administration was to implement an online password reset for students. Student passwords are precursors for so many other digital processes in the application process and day-to-day use of college online software. Currently, the only way to retrieve your password is to have it delivered by mail or get it reset at the Registrar’s desk.

To help increase enrollment, the college has introduced eight new programs this fall, including an exercise science major. More than 15 new programs have been introduced in the last few years.

“We look carefully at our academic programs to make sure that they transfer and set students up to get jobs,” said Kennedy.

The college is also working to recruit students from out of the area, including internationally. Currently, there is an admissions advisor in Vietnam for that purpose.

To accommodate students who live farther away and make it easier for them to commute to Hudson Valley, the college sold off the Hy Rosenblum building, a property on Morrison Ave within walking distance from campus, for student housing. 85 percent of Hudson Valley students are from the Capital District, which is considered any location within an hour radius of the campus.

Kennedy said, “The college made a decision not to manage student housing on Morrison, but we’ve made it possible for others to manage student housing by selling property and partnering in that fashion.”

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