Committee meets to solve declining enrollment
By Antonio Garcia
An enrollment committee meant to address Harold Washington College’s declining enrollment met March 7 and March 21 to discuss possible solutions.
The committee discussed the effects that the online student portal has on enrollment with CCC district officials and future plans of action.
The committee met with three members of CCC’s district office, Heather LaBelle, Scott Martyn and Catherine Curran, to gain perspective on what it’s like to use the student portal when registering for classes as a new student.
“We had an overview on the new student portal,” said Emily Jurgens, an accounting professor and committee member, “they presented to us the student portal so that we could get a view of it from the students eyes of, what they go through, what they see, how the placement testing works, [and] how they enroll in their classes.”
About two hundred students started the registration process this semester and either did not complete it or fully registered and withdrew later, according to President Margie Martyn, who was also on the committee.
Committee members will reach out to the two hundred students who withdrew from the 2017 Spring semester.
“We want to call them all or email them and ask, ‘Hey what happened?’” said Martyn. “One of the things that’s going to happen from now on is that when you go to register for the next semester, a pop-up will come up and you’re going to have to verify that contact information.”
Marie Monter, a college advisor, sees her role as a committee member exclusive to her overall role at HWC.
“I’m on the new student orientation team so I think it will directly impact me if we create any new policy or if we decided to try something new,” said Monter. “That’s going to be my team [along] with my other new student orientation advisors.”
The two college advisors on the committee were tasked with assessing the college’s transfer website and the information available to prospective students regarding HWC’s relationships to four-year universities.
“So, looking at how much of that information we provide right on the first screen versus when you have to click into different links,” said Monter. “As students, when you’re looking at institutions you’re browsing their website, so kind of what what would those students browsing our website, looking at our transfer resources, looking at what all we offer at Harold, what are they seeing?”
HWC’s Spring 2017 Fiscal Year student enrollment decreased 11.6 percent from the colleges 2016 Spring fiscal year, according to ICCB’s Spring Semester Enrollment Surveys.
The college used to have a recruiter dedicated to reaching out to prospective students, but the position has been left vacant.
“We used to have a dedicated recruiter who would go out to high schools and recruit for city colleges and that position was not filled when that individual left,” said Jurgens, who joined the college in the Fall of 2015.
One of the ways the committee is looking to increase outreach to high school students and work around a depleted recruiting team, is by highlighting the colleges Star Scholars on their very own blog.
“We are featuring our first star scholar this week,” said Martyn on March 23. “This is another way to try to get the CPS students who are eligible for star scholarships to come here.”
The committee will also be instituting a “feedback box” in Room 101, where most students begin their new student registration, that will allow students to give the committee an idea on what their experience was like.
“We want their first experience at the college to be pleasant and helpful and were going to try to get their feedback,” said Martyn.
The committee hopes to meet once during the summer and resume regular meetings in the fall.
Headed by Dr. Maria de Jesus Estrada, the committee was formed following a Feb. 10 State of the College meeting and includes faculty members Michael Eskayo and Emily Jurgens, President Margie Martyn, Executive Director of Business Operations Kent Lusk, Marie Monter and Kevin Lee who are both college advisors.
“It would be nice if, as a committee, we can identify one very specific reason why enrollment, we think, has been impacted and with that reason find a lot of data to support that conclusion, and take that one identifiable action item and do something tangible with it,” said Jurgens.