CSCC Experiences Significant Increase In Enrollment For Fall Semester

Friday, September 7, 2018
- photo by Nathan Ball Photography
Cleveland State Community College enrolled 3,246 students for the fall semester with 2,192 full time equivalent, which is an 8 percent increase in headcount and a 5 percent increase in FTE from last year, according to preliminary numbers. The increase in headcount is the largest increase among Tennessee Board of Regents community colleges and the increase in FTE is the second largest among TBR community colleges, official said.  

“We're always excited to start a new academic year, but especially excited this fall with increased enrollment,” stated Dr.
Michael Stokes, vice president for Student Services. “Our enrollment increase shows that we're working to meet the educational needs of our five-county service area by offering relevant, high-quality programs in formats that are make higher education accessible to all types of students.” 
 
According to Dr. Stokes, there were significant increases in the areas of dual enrollment, honors, the Tennessee Valley Early College and Tennessee Reconnect. Dual enrollment experienced a 25 percent increase since the fall of 2017. The increase in dual enrollment was partly due to the Mechatronics Middle College Grant. Cleveland State was one of four Tennessee community colleges that received a $250,000 state grant to expand its Middle College Mechatronics Program. Fifty students enrolled through this program. The first class of TVEC included 17 full-time students from Cleveland High School who are now on track to complete associate degrees by May 2020, while more than 850 adults applied for Tennessee Reconnect. Applications and enrollment of new students increased by 18 percent since last year. Tennessee Reconnect is a scholarship that offers adult students the opportunity to earn an associate degree or technical certificate, tuition-free.

Another area on campus that experienced tremendous growth was the Advanced Technologies Division, with an increase of 87 percent since fall of 2017. 

Dr. Tim Wilson, Advanced Technologies Department chair, credits this increase to strong faculty, laser-focused recruitment, alignment of programs, support from industry, funding from private donors, collaboration with service are high schools, full support from CSCC administration and a specific two-year plan for the department.  

Dr. Wilson stated, “With our recent merger with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) division, our growth is projected to be strong in subsequent semesters due to collaboration with the pre-engineering department. Our hands-on equipment is state-of-the-art and being added to often as funds come available. Classrooms have been refurbished and updated with the latest tools for teaching and learning such as Prometheon boards and Elmo projection cameras.”

Cleveland State officials said they are one of few community colleges who are partners with the Siemens Mechatronics Systems Certification Program, whereas CSCC can offer globally-recognized certifications on top of academic certificates and degrees. Additionally, CSCC offers full articulation agreements with both the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee State University, whereas students can continue their studies toward a bachelor of applied science in mechatronics engineering technologies or a bachelor of science in mechatronics engineering.  

The Cleveland State Advance program allows adult students the opportunity to complete an associate degree in 16-18 months by attending class one night a week. According to Candice Patterson, director of the Advance Business program, the Advance program nearly tripled its enrollment from last year’s cohort. Patterson credits the fall increase to the number of returning adults for the Tennessee Reconnect, but states there was already an increase in the Advance numbers for summer.

“We are excited about the growth for the Advance program, both in Cleveland and Athens,” stated Ms. Patterson. “They are a motivated group of students who are excited to get an opportunity to earn their degrees. We were able to increase our partnerships and visits with local business and industries, so I think that really helped with our numbers. It was fortunate that many employers stepped up to foot the bill for their employees to go back to school before Reconnect even started.”

According to Ms. Patterson, they have also tried to reduce the cost of textbooks through Cengage Unlimited, a publisher that provides one-of-a-kind access to digital learning platforms, eBooks, online homework and study tools, in addition to affordable textbook rentals. In addition, Cleveland State works closely with Bryan College and Tennessee Wesleyan University so that CSCC Advance graduates can transfer into these adult evening programs. 

Dr. Stokes stated, “Our faculty and staff have done a great job focusing on providing support for students throughout the enrollment process so that they can be set up for success while they are here.”

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