Treasure Valley Community College. (The Enterprise/File)
ONTARIO – Treasure Valley Community College is reporting a boost in enrollment this year, reversing a downward trend that lasted several years.
The college reported that its enrollment on a full-time equivalent basis hit 568 this fall, up about 2% and the first increase since 2012.
The total number of students increased again. In 2018, the count of people taking classes increased from the year before to 2,175 and increased again this fall to 2,215.
The full-time calculation is based on total credit hours and is the number used by the state to allocate funding to the college.
Baylie Whiting, TVCC student body president, said that she has noticed that this year there are more students participating in events.
“Some of the events we’ve already had this fall, like our Fall Fest, our Halloween thriller dance, there was a much higher attendance,” said Whiting, who grew up in Vale and is the third person in her family to be the student body president.
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Whiting said that she senses the change in day-to-day life on campus.
“I feel like there’s a lot more interaction on campus. I’ve seen a lot more students on campus than I did last year,” Whiting said.
“Granted it is the fall term. So, there are more people in the fall term than in the spring or the winter. But in my classes personally, there are a lot more students that I’ve noticed in my two classes that I have on campus than I had last year.”
She said the higher enrollment means that student government has more money to put on more activities.
Eddie Alvez, vice president for academic affairs, said that the school had been working on increasing enrollment since last year.
“We had some challenges last year, did some promotions in the winter quarter in particular last year that were successful,” Alvez said.
One program in particular that Alvez highlighted as contributing to the increase in enrollment is the school’s new aviation program that was recently approved, and which brought 22 aviation students to Ontario.
In addition, Alvez said the school has a federal grant to focus on student retention, and keeping students at the school for their second year.
“That’s been part of the success of our enrollment staying up,” Alvez said.
Abby Lee, TVCC public information director said, “that’s where we’ve seen the most increase in our enrollment is that we are keeping more students than we did the last year.”
Lee said part of the increase relates to the federal grant the school currently has that improves support services, math labs, and advising.
“We believe that’s made a difference. But we are really susceptible to the economy here. So, if students come here for a year and then they can go out and get a job… if they can get a job for $15 an hour, they will often delay coming back to college because they’re working,” Lee said.
Lee said that while unemployment in the area is low, people who are underemployed can return to TVCC to get better skills.
Lee said that because unemployment hasn’t changed dramatically over the past two years, it is an indication that the school is doing a good job at student retention.
“The economy hasn’t fallen out and it also hasn’t changed much. So, we think that we’ve done a good job of, again, that retention piece of having students feel like they have a degree plan,” Lee said. “There’s a reason for them to stay in school.”
Alvez said that the college is subject to the ebb and flow of the economy.
“Amazon opens up a new fulfillment center in Nampa and all of a sudden we don’t have any students coming in because they all are going to go to work for Amazon. That is a real challenge for us,” Alvez said.
As far as additional funding goes, Lee said that there is a set amount of money that every school can receive.
Alvez said he recently met with vice presidents of all the community colleges in the state.
“We’re almost all about in the same boat,” he said. “We’re all just slightly increased just a little bit and I don’t see it changing funding dramatically.”
News tip? Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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