In an effort to help combat the decrease in enrollment numbers at El Paso Community College, faculty and administrators are assisting in a specialized retention team assembled to help remedy losses.
“Summer enrollment is down by 6 percent, with continuing students enrollment being down by 4.66 percent, 422 people, and first-time transferring students by 40 percent, 425 people,” Dr. Carol Kay, director of institutional research, said.
Victoria Acosta/Tejano Tribune
A drop in continuing and transferring students have affected summer enrollment, down 700 students.
Kay said the combination of the continuing students enrollment numbers and first-time transferring student numbers are the reason for the enrollment decline.
This year, summer enrollment dropped to 11,500 students enrolled, compared to last year’s 12,200.
“We have an exclusive program called the ‘Analytics Dashboard’ that predicts a possible scenario by taking the numbers from 3 years prior and comparing them to the current one to date,” Kay said. “This only shows us where we’re at, because no one can predict the future.”
To attempt to turn around retention and first-time transfer enrollment lows, EPCC assembled a “taskforce” last year, headed by Interim Executive Director of Outreach and Transition Services Dr. Marisa Pierce and consisting of administrators and staff.
“In a campus-wide effort focusing on recruitment as well is retention, the “taskforce” has representation from all areas of the college,” Linda Gonzalez-Hensgen, vice president of student services, said.
With her staff’s involvement in the task force, Director of Recruitment and School Relations Nita Corral-Nava, J.D., said if area high schools don’t have the money to bus students to visit their respective EPCC campuses, then the task force will “take the show to them.”
“We implemented the ‘Early High School Senior Registration’ initiative,” Corral-Nava said. “It counsels and recruits high school seniors and its graduates. This initiative started in the spring and will continue throughout the entire summer.”
After partnering with the counseling department, 1,000 student recruits were advised; 600 registered, with the remaining 400 still being processed on a one-on-one basis, she said.
In effect to the Board of Trustees approving tuition increases earlier this spring, Executive Director of Financial Aid Raul Lerma said the financial aid department took the tuition increase into account when state grant money was set aside to aid the students.
“We addressed the recent tuition increase by awarding available funds to minimize any financial hardships to students,” Lerma said. “Using what was left-over from unused Pell grant money, the combining of the two would help continuing students with tuition.”
Although lines in the Enrollment and Student Services building may not always be long, Emily Alonzo, EPCC Valle Verde admissions and registrar assistant, said no lines does not always mean no people.
“Looks can be deceiving,” she said. “The process of enrollment has been made easier with online registration. The absence of the physical body is not an indicator that enrollment is drastically down, processing paperwork still remains steady.”
With enrollment number lows identified, Carmen Garcia, EPCC Valle Verde financial aid specialist, remains positive.
“Returning students, freshmen [high school graduates] as well as transient students, have kept us constantly busy [this summer],” Garcia said. “We’re not busting out at the seams yet, but we are ready and prepare for it."