College enrollment down

Local schools using different approaches to attract students

Professor Lisa Cassidy’s BIO 104 environmental science class attends a lecture on Monday at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Local college enrollment is down, following a national trend in post-secondary education, and North Country Community College and Paul Smith’s College have enacted different strategies to address the decline.

North Country

NCCC is down 30 full-time equivalencies from its target of 970 FTEs for the semester. As a community college that enrolls year-round, it tracks its numbers with FTEs rather than a head count, said Chris Tacea, dean of admissions. This number takes into account both full-time students and converted part-time student enrollment numbers.

“But we have an opportunity to close that gap come spring,” Tacea said.

One of the college’s strategies is the launch of the “6 on Us” program, Tacea said. Adults who have been out of school for five or more years may be applicable for the program, which allows a prospective student to take their first six credits at NCCC for free.

“The high school demographics in our service area are shrinking,” Tacea said, so the “6 on Us” program is targeted at the local adult population — especially those who may have doubts about their ability to complete college work, or pay for it.

“We’re looking at ways to help non-traditional students,” Tacea said. “It’s a good opportunity for them to test us.”

NCCC will host new student registration days on Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.

Paul Smith’s

Shannon Oborne, chief marketing officer at Paul Smith’s College, said enrollment at the private institution is down as well, decreasing by 21 students to 750 enrolled this year, from 771 last year.

“It’s reflecting a national trend,” said Oborne. She said this particularly affects rural institutions, due to shrinking demographics. She said enrollment has been decreasing for the last five years.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment has been declining for the last seven years — most harshly in the Midwest and Northeast.

“We’ve got a really, really interesting slate of academic programs,” Oborne said, speaking to PSC’s forestry, environmental science, ecological restoration and other majors.

In an effort to broaden its appeal and draw more students, Oborne said PSC has begun to expand existing offerings like its business school and athletics programs, as well as launch new opportunities for students — like a minor in wildland firefighting.