College of Education, Health and Human Services tries to reverse enrollment trend

Nate Ulrich

Overall student enrollment is down at Kent State, with the College of Education, Health and Human Services showing the largest decrease during the last year.

From the 2005 spring semester to spring 2006, the College of EHHS suffered an undergraduate enrollment decrease of 282 students, or about 12 percent, in Kent State’s eight-campus system, according to the division of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness. Graduate enrollment also dropped by 124 students or 5.81 percent.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

• From spring 2005 to spring 2006, undergraduate enrollment for the College of EHHS decreased about 12 percent, and graduate enrollment dropped 5.81 percent.

• From spring 2005 to spring 2006, total student enrollment dropped by 2.23 percent.

Total student enrollment dropped in Kent State’s eight-campus system by 736 students or 2.23 percent from the 2005 spring semester to the 2006 spring semester.

David England, dean of the College of EHHS, said there are several factors that play a role in enrollment shifts.

“Teacher education enrollment nationally was down considerably last year, and most of the larger producers of teachers in Ohio had declines in some larger program areas,” England said in an e-mail interview. “The job market, the overall economy that necessitates more students working of delaying college and decreasing certainty about the security of teaching are all factors.”

Debbie Barber, the assistant dean for recruitment and retention in the College of EHHS, said the decline in enrollment is not a surprise because numbers were down in Fall 2005, too.

“Schools are not being funded, and I think students tend to choose degrees where there are jobs, Barber said.”

Barber said many students are attending community colleges instead of state universities because of the cost of tuition. Barber also said Kent State’s lack of ample scholarship money hurts enrollment.

“Our biggest competitor for teacher education is Bowling Green,” Barber said. “They have a lot more scholarship money for their students who are going into teacher education at this point. We’ve lost some competitive edge because of the scholarships.”

England said several steps are being made to recruit students and to reverse the trend.

“We are doing more to promote our ability to place teachers nationally, making major efforts to increase the amount of scholarship money we have available, and working more aggressively than ever to recruit future teachers to Kent State University based on the strengths of our programs and the high regard schools districts have for KSU graduates,” England said.

Barber said she has gone to recruitment meetings at high schools in Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, where she met with high school guidance counselors, students and parents to promote Kent State’s College of EHHS.

“We want them to understand that the university started as a teacher’s college,” Barber said. “We have deep roots in education.”

Barber said she tells students about the opportunity to study abroad through the College of EHHS, and she sends a promotional video to high school guidance counselors.

Recruitment is only half the battle. England and Barber are taking steps to secure student retention.

“We have worked out a sound enrollment management plan, redoubled many ongoing efforts and created new initiatives to retain our students,” England said. “(We) have made several program and curriculum moves that will more quickly link our students to our college.”

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Nate Ulrich at [email protected]