JCC dealing with decreasing enrollment

Enrollment is down at Jamestown Community College, but college officials are optimistic marketing, recruitment and admissions initiatives could help mitigate the current trend – including President Daniel DeMarte.

“One of two (graduates) leave here with no debt. That’s a message we need to hit over and over and over in all of our materials,” he said during an Educational Services Committee meeting.

DeMarte, joined by the trustees and college administrators, listened to a report given by Kirk Young, JCC vice president of enrollment management and institutional advancement, and his team of marketing, recruitment and outreach officials. Upon request from the committee, the presentation detailed the current state of enrollment at JCC while highlighting ongoing efforts to increase enrollment and new initiatives in the works.

In total, JCC observed 2,515 students enroll at the college for the fall semester, down 94 from the 2,609 students who enrolled the previous year. Of the 94-student decline, 54 of them were full-time equivalent students. Last year at this time, JCC had 2,409 total students enrolled. JCC is observing an increase in the amount of new students, or students who didn’t attend JCC in the fall, with 54 students, up from 40 students at this time last year.

The college is looking to revise its USA Scholarship that provides students in the top 20 percent of their graduating class free tuition to JCC. The revised version — the original scholarship will also remain intact — will apply to students who qualify for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship. Cuomo’s scholarship exclusively covers tuition cost. The revised USA Scholarship would then cover non-tuition costs for a student in the top 20 percent of their class.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing solutions to the decline — that discussion focused heavily on marketing and recruitment.

The advertising budget operates on $115,000 alone.

A recent donation of $230,000 from the JCC Foundation will boost both the marketing and recruitment budget. Jody Perrin, director of marketing and branding, said the increased budget will improve upon current promotion efforts.

Young said many programs JCC offers are not promoted because of funding

Current messages the institution is pushing to potential students, among others, include JCC’s affordability; locations in Jamestown, Olean and Dunkirk; availability of online courses; low student-to-faculty ratio; athletic programs; and on-campus living options.

With recruitment, JCC currently participates in the Western New York Consortium comprised of 21 college and universities enabling greater access to school districts across the state. As of right now for the Fall 2019 recruitment cycle, JCC has been to 93 related events, received 134 applications and 760 inquiry cards with potential students information.

The college is currently planning parent orientations throughout Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. In Chautauqua County, Young said there are plans to have three session at strategic points throughout the county including Dunkirk, Jamestown and another site that includes other school districts. Joined by the admissions staff, recruitment officials will present to parents of the county “college 101” preparation information. Additionally, information about financial aid will be presented.

A big takeaway from the committee discussion was that fact incoming students are increasingly more needy. Young, DeMarte and those gathered all agreed JCC’s priority should be addressing those needs.