Enrollment plateaus as numbers decrease

By Xavier Johnson, Web Editor

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Enrollment at Contra Costa College has remained relatively stagnant during spring 2020 despite districtwide enrollment decreases at sister colleges Los Medanos College and Diablo Valley College.

As of Feb. 1, the current enrollment figure is 2,142 Full Time Equivalent Students (FTES), which is an insignificant 0.4 percent increase from spring of last year. This plateauing is favorable as the district is undergoing decreases since DVC’s FTES has dropped 3.8 percent and LMC experienced a 1 percent drop.

The Contra Costa Community College District as a whole experienced a 2.2 percent decrease in FTES as of opening day.

FTES is based on the total number of units students enrolled in, divided by 15 units.

One student enrolling in 15 units represents one FTES.

Dean of Enrollment Services Rodolfo Santos said when analyzing enrollment figures, he likes to wait until census on Feb. 8 as an indication of final figures.

“First day is not truly indicative of actual enrollment, in my opinion. They are snapshots of a point in time. Census date is Feb. 8 and that’s an important deadline when we report numbers to the state. Census is the number we usually go with,” Santos said.

The drop in districtwide enrollment appears to be in line with national enrollment trends despite some local and state statistical variance.

According to a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, in spring 2019, two-year public institutions saw a 3.4 percent decrease and public college enrollment in general declined 1.9 percent from spring 2018 to 2019.

These national figures are similar to local trends as well.

“When our nation is in a recession, we see an uptick in enrollment. When the economy is relatively good, we see a slight drop because people are able to find employment. We see some dips.

There’s a general decrease in enrollment across the state. There are multiple factors for all of that,” Santos said.

Due to the passing of AB 705, the math department introduced one-unit support co-requisites to certain Math 120, Math 164 and Math 171 classes in an effort to get students to complete their transfer level math courses faster.

These courses saw early signs of success in fall 2019, their first semester.

Math department Chairperson Terrill Mead said, “We are looking at the people who really need the support class and if they are being successful in the support class. The initial results look positive that it is helping. I’m extremely positive and pleased that we’re doing what we think are good things.”

Math 164, the transfer statistics course, saw a 10 percent improvement in retention rate and success rate with the support class. For Math 171, the numbers were relatively close with the support course having a higher retention rate but a slightly lower success rate than the non-support course.

The strongest indication of success comes from the Math 120 figures.

With support, Math 120 saw an 82 percent retention rate compared to only 73 percent for the non-support course.

The course with support had a success rate of 47.62 percent.

Mead said the numbers for Math 120 were encouraging because typically those are the least prepared students coming into college level math with a benchmark of 28-29 percent.

However, while the numbers are encouraging, Mead said it would take at least a year to make any declarative statements about the meaning of these statistics.

Santos takes a similar approach to analyzing campuswide enrollment figures.

“The numbers can tell us some things, but they don’t necessarily tell us causality. Look at the numbers for what they are and see if there are particular trends. It’s difficult to predict how the numbers will look from semester to semester. You can only do your best to understand and see the patterns and make some narratives out of that,” Santos said.