Southeastern Community College is looking for ways to increase enrollment, even as it waits to release its official student count for Fall 2017. President Michael Ash said community colleges focus primarily on recruiting students from local high schools. He said, though, that that is becoming more of a challenge.
“We have a dwindling or declining enrollment in high school,” said Ash. “So I can’t live on high school enrollment and expect that we are just going to continue to thrive.”
With that in mind, the college is focusing its enrollment efforts in two areas: student athletes and international students.
SCC currently offers men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and softball, and men’s baseball. Athletes in those sports can receive scholarship money.
Ash said the college is looking into adding a few more sports, including cross country and soccer, as early as next year. However, those athletes likely would not receive scholarship money.
“We’re helping out coaches understand that this is about enrollment too,” said Ash. “It is giving an opportunity for an athlete to continue his or her athletic career for another two years.”
Ash said once a new athletic director is in place and able to weigh in on the idea of adding new sports, a proposal will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval. He said if the Board signs off on expanding the athletic offerings, coaches would be hired in time for the seasons to begin next fall.
Ash said the additional sports could result in dozens of new students on campus.
Ash has even loftier goals for increasing the number of international students in southeast Iowa. He said he would like to see at least 200 students from across the globe at SCC in the next few years, which is a big jump from the roughly dozen or so who currently attend the college each year.
“This is going to be a concerted effort because there are many students across the world who are looking to have a place where they can study,” said Ash.
Ash said the college plans to hire someone before the end of the year to focus primarily on recruiting international students. He said adding several hundred more students would allow the college to offer more classes and help the local economy.
SCC’s new 120+ person residence hall on the West Burlington campus just opened this school year. Ash hopes to need at least one more residence hall, if not two, within the next few years.