Dwindling enrollment to impact funding

Headcount goal misses mark, raises concerns among administrators

By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

Faculty and administrators who anticipated improvements from last year’s 8.4 percent enrollment decrease will be disappointed.

Last spring (2014) there were 2,471 FTES and this year, as of Monday, there are 2,264 at Contra Costa College, Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong said. 

Compared to last year, there are 207 fewer FTES here.

California community colleges receive funding based on the number of Full-Time Equivalent Students they serve.

One FTES is the equivalent of one student taking 15 units during a semester or multiple students taking an accumulative 15 semester units.

Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said, “When FTES enrollment drops, funding decreases.”

Ferguson said enrollment has dropped at campuses throughout the Contra Costa Community College District.

Magalong said CCC not meeting its enrollment goals will eventually affect the college negatively.

When the college does not receive enough funding, it stretches to serve students by keeping the same courses available despite FTES shortcomings, she said.

Ferguson said the apportionment paid by the state per FTES is invested in programs and classes, materials and staff and faculty salaries, among other things.

Foresight and planning are absolutely necessary to ensure the funding is used to its utmost, she said.

Interim President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said, “My main focus is ensuring that the college has a strategic plan.”

She said there needs to be a focus on social media to better expose CCC to the public. The college will be working with Comcast to put on a commercial that will emphasize the college to the community.

Ferguson said, “It’s an opportunity to evaluate who we really are.”

Ferguson said one area CCC administrators are focusing on is student retention. Many students begin their journey at the college but do not finish, she said.

One way of improving retention is by helping students set realistic, achievable academic goals and regularly monitoring progress, Ferguson said.

Magalong said focus will shift once the new Campus Center is up and running in fall 2016 and will allow for more students to want to be part of the campus.

Although it is a concern, the efforts are increasing in order to change the image of CCC being the last choice of high school students, Ferguson said.

The year is mapped out with ideas on improving the college, she said.

“We are in a very good place to be innovative when change happens,” she said.

Outreach to different high schools, workshops and online orientations, among others, are part of CCC’s planning toward a better campus community, she said.

There will be groups that go out to high schools around the area to talk to students, workshops for more information and social media projects to allow for visual updates.

Community colleges are not a first choice for many students because they are encouraged to seek admission into four-year universities, but there is nothing wrong with starting at a community college, Mehdizadeh said.

Ferguson said the demographics are changing and students once residing near the area are going elsewhere.

The college does not allow for students to repeat courses more than three times after fail to complete, she said.