June 25th, 2019
GC summer enrollment increases dramatically
Expanded course offerings, updated marketing strategies credited
Expanded course offerings, increases in high school dual enrollment and a comprehensive marketing campaign were all key factors in impressive summer session enrollment gains, according to Garrett College officials.
GC's cut-off date headcount enrollment for the eight-week summer session that started June 12th finished at 134, an 18.6 percent increase over last summer's 113 students who took classes. This summer's increase came on the heels of a 161 percent increase last summer, comparing the 113 students who attended in 2018 to the 51 who took classes in 2017.
"Enrollment data is important because it is one indicator of how successfully we are meeting the local need for higher education,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president. "Our faculty and staff worked extraordinarily hard to create an appealing schedule of classes, market them effectively, and appropriately advise students seeking summer credit opportunities.”
GC's Jennifer Meslener, director of the learning commons, advises Allison Morris and Patrick Ogden, during a recent new student advising day held on GC's main campus in McHenry.
The increase in credit hours taken by summer students over the last two years has been even more impressive. GC summer students took 203 credit hours in 2017, 499 in 2018, and 597 hours in 2019, a two-year increase of 194 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of first-time GC students doubled, going from 11 to 22, while transfer students increased 25 percent.
"The expansion and choice of classes is a larger collaborative effort between Dean [Qing] Yuan and the academic program directors to ensure consistency, regularity, and variety in course offerings,” said Lucy Manley, associate dean for academic affairs. "I also want to emphasize the collaborative effort between academic affairs and enrollment management in addressing marketing and recruitment. There was constant communication between the two offices.” This year's summer headcount enrollment fell one student short of the record 135 enrolled in 2014. This summer's credit hour total was also the second-highest in history behind the 606 credit hours registered in 2014.
Mike Tumbarello, GC's director of enrollment management, echoed Manley's comments.
"Our summer session success is a reflection of our strong offerings and our multi-faceted outreach programs to students, parents and other stakeholders in the community,” said Tumbarello. "I think our cost-effective summer programming has also been discovered by students at other colleges that may be home and in the area for the summer break or seeking to jump-start their studies.”
Manley said new academic programming – including the Associate of Applied Science in Addictions Counseling – played a role in the spike in summer session enrollment.
"Mike and his team put extra effort into advertising the Addictions Counseling AAS,” noted Manley. "Not only do we have new degree-seeking students in the program, but we also have some students with college degrees that are seeking state certification.”
Dual enrollment – a program providing high school students an opportunity to take college courses – also played a key role in GC's summer enrollment increase. The number of high school students taking college courses went from 4 in 2018 to 25 this summer.
"Lucy and [Admissions Coordinator] Melissa[Wass] teamed up to spread the word to high school guidance counselors, students, and their parents about the summer opportunities in our information sessions,” said Dr. Yuan. "Melissa has worked tirelessly to conduct placement testing and register students for summer and the school year.”
Paul Edwards, director of secondary education for Garrett County Public Schools, said "our students are maximizing their educational opportunities” through summer enrollment at the college.
"One advantage to summer enrollment is that it helps a student bank a few credits to add more flexibility in their high school schedules next year,” said Edwards. "In small schools we offer many ‘singleton' courses that often times compete with each other. Getting a class or two in the summer may help a student get more of what they want at their home school in the fall.”
The Advising and Academic Success Center (AASC) also played a key role in the comprehensive marketing of the summer session in addition to advising interested students, according to AASC Director Ashley Ruby.
"The AASC communicates summer enrollment opportunities to students via flyers, emails, text messages, classroom visits, peer engagement activities, and during face-to-face advising meetings,” said Ruby.
"Advisors emphasize the value of summer enrollment with students during Best Chance Advising, the period of time in which students register for the upcoming fall semester,” Ruby added. "During this time, advisors demonstrate with students how taking a summer course or courses may help them to advance more quickly in their degree progress, make up for lost time due to developmental or failed courses, and improve their grade-point average.
Yuan credited Fred Stemple – the college's coordinator of distance learning – with supporting summer students in online courses using Blackboard, the college's online learning management system (LMS).
"Fred has been instrumental in communicating with professors and students in the use of Blackboard as many students enrolled in our summer classes are new students,” said Yuan, who also noted the launch of online student self-registration played a role in the increases summer enrollment. "We have also developed and distributed a guide for students about how to be successful online learners.”
"My number one takeaway from the increased summer enrollment is the collaboration across campus – from faculty willing to teach courses during their break to the dean in support of new initiatives to the advising team stepping up in a time of transition to enrollment management and admissions working to spread the word and field any and all questions that come with the marketing territory,” said Manley. "It truly takes us all working for the benefit of the students.”