ST. PETERSBURG – Months of efforts to get students enrolled this fall at St. Petersburg College have paid off, as enrollment for the term is up 2.2 percent over fall 2013.
As of Aug. 18, the first day of fall classes, 32,350 students were enrolled in 276,620 semester hours at SPC.
“We’re in good shape and I’m very glad to present these numbers because it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to report enrollment gains,” Patrick Rinard, associate vice president for enrollment services, told SPC’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday. “A number of our sister institutions across the state are reporting enrollment declines” the first day of classes.
At SPC, first-time-in-college student enrollment was up 8.8 percent, with even stronger gains among minority FTIC students. Enrollment among FTIC African-American students was up 19.7 percent while FTIC Hispanic student enrollment was up 18.3 percent.
Bachelor’s degree programs saw a 6.7 percent increase in students, continuing a trend of several years. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree now make up 12.7 percent of overall enrollment at SPC, up from 9.4 percent in Fall 2009. The top bachelor’s degree programs at SPC by enrollment and student hours are nursing, business administration and education.
“We’re really proud of the data,” said Tonjua Williams, senior vice president for student services. “This would not have happened without changing the way we did business. We had to undo some of our processes and remove some obstacles to enrolling.”
“As an institution, it’s easy to give yourself kudos, but it’s much harder to look at yourself and say maybe we need to change some processes,” said BOT member Lauralee Westine. “This came from all of you and we are thankful.”
Rather than attend a required orientation and get a student ID, new students at SPC now see an adviser when they register for classes to make sure they are on track. Previously, students were also required to take a career assessment, apply for financial aid, activate their SPC OneCard and get their textbooks before they could register.
Other strategies implemented by college staff to increase enrollment included:
• Enhanced marketing and publications, particularly on social media
• Stronger student communications that are more personal and timely
• A weekly fall 2014 enrollment webinar among staff so enrollment efforts could be better coordinated and communicated.