McHenry County College is the only community college in Illinois that has experienced consecutive and significant enrollment growth over the past three years. This comes at a time when enrollment in colleges throughout the state and the country is declining.
This fall, MCC welcomed 7,475 students, a 6.3% increase from last fall, and a 17% jump from 6,371 students in 2016. Credit hours also improved, up 3.1% compared with last fall – a combined increase of over 8% for the past three years – distinguishing MCC as a success story amid an otherwise unfortunate state trend.
“We’ve put significant effort into student engagement and timely campuswide student support by creating an empowering environment to increase their success,” Dr. Talia Koronkiewicz, vice president of student affairs, said in a new release.
MCC has launched a combination of initiatives to attract, retain and graduate students, which include:
• Creating educational pathways tailored to ensure student success in the community, while pursuing high-demand fields without leaving the area
• Recruiting a more diverse range of students, specifically targeting the area’s Latinx population for an affordable and high-quality education
• Increasing collaborations with area high schools (including dual credit and dual degree programming)
• Growing collaborations with local industry partners
• Offering new professional certificate programs, as well as more classes online, at night and locally in cities throughout the region
As a result, MCC boasts of one of the fastest rates of academic growth. Total credit hours in fall 2019 were 58,401, up 8.5% from 53,783 in 2016, and also up 6% from this spring. That compares with similar community colleges in MCC’s peer group, such as Lincoln Land, John A. Logan, Lake Land and Parkland, which respectively saw credit hours drop during the last three years.
In fact, the latest report from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) indicates a drop in statewide enrollment (headcount) by more than 4% from last fall.
While MCC has cultivated consistent growth, community colleges nationwide have seen their enrollment slide an average of 3.4%. Illinois community college enrollment and academic declines mirror colleges across the U.S. where enrollment has decreased for the eighth consecutive year, according to a report ast spring by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
“MCC is a great launch pad for individuals who are coming from a variety of different starting points and who have diverse educational and professional goals,” President Dr. Clint Gabbard said. “We welcome them, work with them to build their skills, and then propel them toward successful careers and academic destinations.”