Administration examines decreasing enrollment

Bryan Wroten

A decrease in enrollment at Kent State’s regional campuses has caused concern among university administrators.

This year, the eight Kent State campuses lost a total of 967 students from Fall 2004, according to the preponderant enrollment report by Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness. The campuses with decreased enrollment are Kent, Salem, Stark and Trumbull.

“We’re really taking a hard look at why,” said Randi Schneider, director of enrollment management and student services at the Trumbull campus. “We believe increasing costs are the reason, but we can’t assume.”

Trumbull campus has been gradually losing students since Spring 2003, dropping 5.2 percent from last fall’s enrollment numbers. Schneider said a few other possible reasons are fewer students attending the local high schools, the local cities’ populations are decreasing and potential students may not be aware of the financial aid available to them.

“Some are afraid to come to college because they think they can’t afford it,” she said.

In order to try and increase enrollment at Trumbull, Schneider said they are looking into flexible class schedules that would allow more evening classes and educating high school students about financial aid. There also has been discussion about offering more degrees, such as an allied health program.

Denise Seachrist, dean of academic student services of regional campuses, is the co-chair of the Enrollment Management Professional Learning Community, a committee designed to study enrollment increases and decreases at each of Kent State’s campuses. This committee is a new concept, she said, because it brings the campuses together.

“Each campus has been struggling and acting on the issues independently,” she said. “Now we’re trying to support each other.”

The committee will look at the successes of some campuses, such as Geauga, and determine why the enrollment continues to increase there, she said. The Geauga campus offers flexible class schedules that meet the students’ demands and has the Twinsburg Center.

Seachrist said once the committee studies the successful aspects at campuses with increasing enrollment, they will implement them at regional campuses with decreasing enrollment.

“We will discuss ideas for increasing enrollment and allow opportunities for professionals to share ideas,” she said.

However, Schneider said the campuses will be careful not to overlap too much. She said the campuses “don’t want to compete with ourselves by offering programs to take away from other regional campuses.”

Contact religion and minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].