Despite Arizona being one of the fastest growing states in the nation, the state’s community colleges have continued to struggle to get students enrolled into classes.Seven of the districts 10 colleges, one of which being MCC, saw a dip in enrollment during the 2007 school year, according to the Maricopa County Community College District. MCC alone has lost approximately 10 percent of it’s enrollment since 2004.
“It is a serious concern with the entire district and it has been going on for four years now,” said MCC president Shouan Pan.
According to Sonja Filan, the director for MCC’s Institutional Advancement, MCC’s enrollment is down a bit for the fall semester as of early August. Enrollment for night classes has gone down significantly with day enrollment picking up a bit recently.
It’s not exactly clear why the enrollment has dropped, but there are many possible reasons for classrooms being less filled with students. The poor economy and higher gas prices are two factors that Filan and Pan believe are the reasons for the decline in enrollment.
“The couple of students that I have talked to have said that one of their reasons for not signing up for classes here are because of the high gas prices,” Filan said.
“The high gas prices have students thinking of how they can get to school in a cheaper way,” Pan said.
The sudden increase in students taking online courses, which is approximately 7,000, according to Filan, could be a sign that the current gas prices have something to do with students staying away from taking classes on the main campus.
Pan also believes that Proposition 300 has had some effect on the schools drop in enrollment.
Prop. 300 has required documentation for students to enroll and it has even caused a number of students to pay out-of-state tuition.
“It’s certainly had an effect here, but it’s just not at MCC,” Pan said.
MCC is doing everything it can to try and improve the current state of it’s enrollment problem.
Pan supports Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s P-20 council, which improves the state’s education system from early childhood through postsecondary education.
“It has been an initiative for the governor for many years now and it is one of the innovative ways for the state to respond to respond to the shortage of college graduates,” Pan said.
In accordance with the governor’s council, MCC has purchased two commercial buildings near the Fiesta Mall that will soon begin it’s partnership with Mesa Unified School District and Northern Arizona University to create a K-20 grade school.