Efforts to raise Ashtabula’s enrollment in effect

Anthony Cornwell

Kent State Ashtabula confirms its enrollment is on the rise due to the popularity of the nursing program and tuition rates.

Before the rise in enrollment starting in 2012, Ashtabula’s enrollment was dwindling. Admissions Officer Megan Krippel said enrollment was originally on the decline because of the economic recession of 2008.

“Enrollment had been on the decline after the bounce back from the recession but we are on the incline again,” she said. “The solution to this was to switch our focus to two key areas: recent graduates from high school and those who are working but still hoping to advance their career skills.”

Krippel said Ashtabula is doing both of these things successfully, with 16 percent of area high school students attending the campus for fall, 2015. She also said the average student age, 24, is down from 25 over the past year.

Krippel also said that enrollment is back on the rise because of the need for nurses, noting Ashtabula’s nursing program being its “most popular major in terms of volume,” next to the Physical Therapy Assisting program.

“These programs are so popular because of their high job placement rate, the overall success of our graduates and due to the wonderful facilities that we have on campus,” she said. “We do not guarantee jobs for any of our programs but it is evident that healthcare is where the jobs are in our current economy in Ashtabula County.”

Amanda Dolan, director of Enrollment Management and Student Services, said the tuition is a one of the reasons enrollment increased.

“I believe that students are beginning to understand the cost of higher education and are looking for high quality at an affordable price and they get both of those outcomes here,” she said. “Our tuition is affordable. So between grants and scholarships, we have several students who graduate debt-free.”

She added there are programs such as College Credit Plus and dual credit, where students earn college credit while in high school. The campus also does community events such as college awareness training and financial aid nights, as well as provide the area high schools with any resources they need for helping to prepare students for college.

Krippel said Ashtabula’s involvement with local high schools is also a reason for the enrollment increase.

“As the only four year public institution in the county, we serve not just as an institution for higher education but also a community resource,” she said.

In addition to local involvement with high schools, Ashtabula advertises through radio, online and print via music streaming service Pandora, traditional radio outlets, social media and newspaper advertisements.

Dolan also said the enrollment increase is due to the campus offering competitive degrees in health care, business, computers and the humanities.

Krippel said Ashtabula’s enrollment should remain consistent or be on the rise with its new program coming soon.

“In Spring 2016, our Bachelor’s in Respiratory Care will launch its 100 percent online program,” she said. “In addition, this summer we will be getting a redesigned driveway and parking lot.”

Ashtabula has already had changes made to the campus in the past five years, including a new Health and Science building, renovated Main Hall and a redesigned bookstore. The Robert S. Morrison Health and Science Building is continuing to receive updated equipment to match the needs the students.

Anthony Cornwell is a regional/commuters reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]