Enrollment decline corresponds to higher tuition

Written by: Oscar Trigueros

Mercer County Community College’s enrollment has gone down again, according to an Enrollment Trends data chart that was updated January 2017. Credit hours and headcount at the West Windsor campus have dropped. An Enrollment Trends chart that compared headcount numbers and credit hours between the 2015 and 2017 school years revealed that headcount is down a total of 1,269 students from last year on the West Windsor campus. The chart also reveals that credit hours for the West Windsor campus were down by 8,524 compared to last year.

“We do know we are down between 2 to 3 percent, in general, but that number will change as we continue to register the 10-week students and the 7-week students who are still registering,” Dr. Jianping Wang, MCCC President, said.

“The national trend enrollment is down. The whole country, enrollment is down, and will continue to go down. Community college enrollment is always connected to the economy.  Nationally, high school graduation rates are going down because of a population change. So we have fewer and fewer children born to the parents and fewer are going to elementary school, middle school, and high school. And with fewer high school students coming to us, we have fewer college students. So that’s a national trend across the board,” Dr. Wang said.

Jeffrey Koffie, a first-year student at Mercer, majoring in Communications: New Media, recently withdrew himself from Journalism I. Koffie told The VOICE: “I took Journalism in high school. I wouldn’t really say it was my thing even though I took it anyway. And I had to struggle through with it and I thought I would get better doing it again in college but I guess journalism isn’t that interesting to me.”

“Sadly, I do think enrollment will keep going down to the point where college prices for people who still want to go to college will skyrocket to the point where they won’t want to go to college at all,” Koffie said.

Michael Davila, a second year student studying Advertising and Web Design told the College VOICE “It was Life Drawing. We started out with I think like maybe 13 or 14 people and by the middle of the semester we were down to like eight.”

As to why the class decreased in size, Michael Davila said, “Maybe because they (other students) weren’t showing up, too. He (the professor) said if you had three or more absences he would just drop you to keep you from failing.”

In a survey conducted on the West Windsor campus, 20 percent of students surveyed that they either knew someone or they themselves withdrew from a course, or did not return to Mercer due to financial reasons. Another 10 percent cited time and scheduling to be a reason as to why they did not enroll in a course or did not come to Mercer for higher education.

Professor Adrian Ashbourne, an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Mercer says, “I think one semester I finished with 11 students. For some of them they weren’t attending classes. I couldn’t get a response so I had to drop a few. Some of them was based on grades. They weren’t able to bring them up past a certain point so they made a decision to drop the class,” Professor Ashbourne said.

Professor Ashbourne said, “one or two students usually a semester say they can’t afford it (required online program for class). Usually because they think they actually need it immediately, but I do work with them.”

“Higher education is getting more and more expensive. In this state, the federal funding is going down every year, and student share of the burden of higher education cost (tuition) is going up every year. That’s why at Mercer we are working really, really hard to maintain our education cost.” Dr. Wang said.

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Oscar Trigueros
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