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New regs on joint offerings affecting CWC enrollment

Apr 14, 2017 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

At issue is a higher level of credentialing for concurrent enrollment instructors mandated by 2022.

Administrators at Central Wyoming College continue to address a decrease in concurrent enrollments stemming from a change in credentialing requirements through the Higher Learning Commission.

CWC has until 2022 to meet the new requirements, but when the changes were announced last year Board of Cooperative Higher Education Services director Mat Johnson said several teachers backed out of the program.

"We lost some big enrollment because of that," he said Tuesday.

In addition, he continued, some local schools that were in the process of planning their course catalogs for the coming year eliminated concurrent enrollment classes when they learned about the new HLC requirements.

Johnson is working with school officials to reverse those decisions.

"We're going to ... try to get most of those courses back," he said. "That's one of our goals coming up."

He also hopes that some of the teachers who dropped out of the BOCHES program will resume teaching concurrent classes.

Other instructors who have continued to participate in the program are working to achieve the level of credentialing HLC requires by 2022. Some already meet the requirements.

"We can utilize most of the instructors still, which is great," Johnson said. "We'll be working with other instructors to develop education plans and set goals to earn those credits they might be short."

He encouraged parents and students to speak with their guidance counselors if they are interested in concurrent enrollment

Enrollment

The BOCHES program has been blamed for the majority of the enrollment decline taking place at CWC. A memo to the CWC Board of Trustees noted that concurrent enrollment is responsible for "the largest single share," or 79 percent, of the decrease at the school.

As of Monday, there was a 14 percent downturn in the student headcount for the spring semester compared to last year, along with an 11 percent decrease in full-time equivalents.

Administrators also are tracking summer enrollments, which were opened in November this school year - five months earlier than usual.

The early enrollment period appears to have helped: On Monday 256 students had signed up for summer courses - 67 percent of the 380-student goal and an increase of almost 150 percent over the same time last year. FTE was almost 44 on Monday - 78 percent of the goal for the year but "a similarly large increase" compared to last year, institutional effectiveness director Louisa Hunkerstorm said in an email to staff.

"Right now this is pretty exciting," she wrote.

Hunkerstorm added that CWC needs 150 more summer students in the next two weeks to keep pace with last year.

CWC has opened enrollment for fall 2017, too, and so far, Hunkerstorm said, 329 people have signed up for classes - only 16 percent of the final goal, but 62 percent more than last year's headcount at this time. FTE is about 303 - 22 percent of the final goal but 46 percent higher than last year at this time.

"We have only had a few days of fall enrollment so far, so it is early for either jubilation or despair," Hunkerstorm wrote. "But if you must choose one, it should be jubilation. This is a pretty remarkable increase."

She also has been tracking persistence of degree-seeking students, 916 of whom enrolled for the spring semester. Of that total, 360 - or almost 40 percent - have already registered for courses in the summer or fall. Noting that 150 of the students are expected to graduate this spring, Hunkerstorm said she would like to enroll about 400 more of CWC's current degree-seeking students for the summer or fall.

"Last year, 71 percent of spring 2016 degree-seeking students either graduated or re-enrolled," she wrote. "We can do better this year - let's keep enrolling them."

It's easiest to get students to sign up for additional coursework while they are still in school, Hunkerstorm noted, encouraging instructors and advisors to initiate conversations about re-enrollment before the spring semester ends.

"The next month is critical," she said.

The memo to the CWC Board indicated administrators have come up with a two-part plan to address enrollment declines, including short- and long-term strategies. A short-term list already has been assembled and can be utilized "rapidly to make a difference right away," while a strategic enrollment management team will work to build the long-term plan for student success.New regs on joint offerings affecting CWC enrollment
 

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