Low Enrollment Continues; Possible Solutions Emerge

Diana Petras

Colleges statewide have been going through an ongoing decline in enrollment and with fewer students signing up classes are in danger of being cancelled.
In response to this crisis, GCC has attempted to improve the numbers by drawing more students into new programs and providing more options to serve students’ needs.

Vice President of Administrative Services Larry Serot said that low enrollment is directly related to the economy. The economy is doing relatively well right now, and Serot said that when the economy is in a better state there are fewer students attending college because not much is needed for people to attain more skills for a job.

He said that the enrollment numbers may be diminishing because there are people who are working while the economy is in good standing and there are fewer high school graduates.

Declining enrollment has also been attributed to parking problems on campus.

“We’ll see if parking makes a difference with the new garage,” said Serot. “Then we’ll know if parking truly was a major deterrent [to enrollment].”

However, Vice President of Instructional of Services Dawn Lindsay said the lack of parking spaces cannot be the sole reason for low enrollment.

“There isn’t one answer to the issue here,” she said. “There are other educational options and some students may be opting to attend colleges that offer different types of teaching modalities or classes [offered] at different times.”

Even with a new semester, enrollment is down all over this semester. Several classes are even on the verge of cancellation. Professor Jeff Smith, an adjunct who teaches public relations and broadcast journalism, said that he only has about 10 students enrolled in both courses and that he was concerned because he was told 15 students are required to prevent a class from being cancelled. [At press time, El Vaquero found out that both of Smith’s classes have gone forward.]

Both courses are only offered in the evening but Smith said, “night versus day classes is not the problem. [My classes] are now offered every semester compared to once a year.”

Last semester, international Fine Arts student Ngene Mwaura signed up for an animation class that got cancelled. “I needed it [the class],” he said. “I ended up having to take another class that I didn’t plan on taking then. That’s [a waste of] money and it’s just an inconvenience to do.”

“All of the programs we offer at this college are very good,” said Lindsay. “Some [programs] draw greater student numbers [and] we are encouraging faculty and staff to open up new classes and share the information with the students.” Students may be missing out on programs and courses like Smith’s classes because they do not know all the options that are available to them.

“I don’t know why classes are shutting down,” said Instructor of Business Edward Nandkishore. “We may need to find out from students to see if it is a loss of interest or from the instructor, but I am unsure. I have taught here at GCC continuously for 20 years. If all three of my classes are cancelled, this might be a first for me.”
The downward trend has been consistent between both the fall and spring semesters, and GCC is looking at ways to improve enrollment.

“We understand that there are other institutions [that high school students would like to go to], but we like to look at it so that they [the counselors] could recommend a community college [to the students],” said Outreach and Assessment Manager, Alen Andriassian.
The school had recently invited several local high school counselors on campus to inform them about Glendale College’s programs and services. “It is our job to let them [the high school counselors] know what we have to offer here [at GCC],” said Adriassian.

“So we brought L.A. Unified, Burbank Unified and Glendale Unified schools here [at the college],” he said. “Dr. Levy spoke about the college and its mission. We had Dr. Lindsay talk about the institution and the classes we have, [and] Sharon Combs talked about Student Services and opportunities we have here [at GCC].”

“Our goal is to improve our numbers despite the fact that there are real variables that we don’t have control over,” said Lindsay. “We need to work on the areas where we have control and when we offer classes,” she said. “We also have control over expanding programs like including more evening classes and opening online classes.”

“Our mission is to service our community and our constituent groups. It [the mission] includes remedial classes, certificate programs, AA/AS degrees, transfer, vocational training, credit and noncredit classes, community education and so much more.”

According to Lindsay, the school is working to make sure that the current programs and certificates are still up to date by looking at the market needs so that they can market the courses to the economy and inform them of what options GCC has to offer.

“If we create a certificate and we do not have a program demand for in this particular community, then it won’t be very successful,” said Lindsay. “However, if we listen to the businesses and the students, then we see what kind of curriculum we can develop that is more streamlined for them [the students].

“[GCC] offers [students] courses to be successful in life,” said Smith. “The Los Angeles area is the entertainment capital of the world. It is a major media hub and [we] need to get the word out more.”