ICC uses hybrid approach to attract students

Kristen Urchell

An abundance of new and returning students are enrolling at community colleges, both nation and statewide. In February, the Illinois Community College Board reported the spring enrollment for the 2010 fiscal year was at record high levels.

From the 2009 spring semester, the Illinois Community College Board noted a 7.8 percent increase in headcount enrollment. The rising trend is affecting Illinois Central College, as well, where there was 10.4 percent increase from last spring semester.

To accommodate, ICC is developing and introducing hybrid style courses to their students.

“The less-than-favorable economy has something to do with our increase in numbers, as many individuals seem to be coming back for retraining into other career areas,” said Dean of Student Services, Guy Goodman. “Another factor is our strategic focus on minority and non-traditional student recruitment.”

He also noted that the billboard for ICC around town are focused on demographic groups. 

Reports in enrollment trends are evaluated in three groups: headcount, credit hours and full-time equivalent. Headcount enrollments have a direct impact on the status of programs and class schedules; whereas, credit hours are important to a community college’s funding.

“Headcount is the outward appearance. It tells the outside world how many students are stepping across our threshold and sitting in our classes. However, credit hour totals keep the doors open,” said Goodman. “Our funding from the state of Illinois is based on credit hour totals in specific types of classes.”

Full-time equivalent, which is reported by the Illinois Community College Board is calculated by dividing the credit hour totals by 15, the average number of credit hours taken by a full-time student.

“In fiscal year 2008, we had an overall decrease in headcount and credit hours. However, for the fiscal year 2009 and 2010, we had an increase in both categories with 2010 credit hour increases being at 12.1 percent,” Goodman said.  

Those ages 20 to 24 saw the highest increase in headcount at ICC in particular, which indicate to Goodman that more students come to ICC for freshman and sophomore years to complete requirements.

More students in attendance means changes in class size and structure. Classes that might have only had a dozen students in 2008 are getting closer to capacity with 23.