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NCCC officials aim for older students

September 6, 2019
By KEVIN SHEA - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - North Country Community College has seen a drop in registered students as the region's high school graduate pool shrinks, pushing the school to recruit older students.

"So I got a report from the registrar this morning that we are at 848 registered students, and it's about a 1.2% drop from this time last year," said Alex Parnia, interim vice president of enrollment management at NCCC. "But given what's going on in the industry, higher education, I think we have held our grads here and we have good enrollment."

The school also saw a drop in the number of students who enrolled for the first time. There are rough estimates currently - firm numbers will be out in the coming weeks - but what's estimated is that there are 455 new students this year at the school, an approximate 4% or 5% drop from the previous year.

In a monthly marketing and enrollment report for this August, it was mentioned that throughout the SUNY community colleges, enrollment has dropped anywhere from 5% to 18%.

"In order to meet the overall FTE (full-time equivalent student) numbers, the College must continue to recruit adults throughout the year and online programs," according to the report.

Parnia said community colleges can no longer rely on high school graduates to fill their classrooms. Parnia said NCCC has several programs set in place to go after other students.

"Although the national graduation of high school students has stabilized, we're still facing that problem here," Parnia said. "In the three counties that we serve, we see a continuous drop in graduates."

Parnia said that nationally, however, the number of high school graduates is expected to drop around 2024, furthering the need to recruit adults.

One new addition, which might draw in a few more students, is NCCC will soon be able to let online classes be taken out-of-state. Previously, the online courses could only be taken in-state.

The school has also hired Amy Tuthill as its new associate director for recruiting of adult learners.

"She has a lot of experience working with veterans and also working with the (Department of Defense)," Parnia said.

"We've found that some of our paperwork has not been updated with the DOD, and we couldn't, for instance, visit camps and all that," Parnia said. "So (Tuthill's) putting that in place, and now all is good, and as of yesterday we are waiting for one last step with the DOD to be approved."

The school will still visit high schools and work to push its 2 2=You program, which would allow for students to complete two years at NCCC and then finish a four-year bachelor's degree at Paul Smith's College.

"We're going to try to promote the 2 2 because I think it might attract some new, additional students," Parnia said.

Upon giving his report to the Board of Trustees, Parnia was asked by Trustee Dan Kelleher if he believed that, since the dormitories are packed - this year they were filled with 99 students, whereas in the past they only had 96 - if the school should consider investing in renting spaces for students to live.

Kelleher said that by renting a location the school would avoid liability. It would also allow the school to not have to invest too heavily in a location if the number of people looking to live on campus drops. Parnia said the possibility would be there and should be considered for next year if the number of students wanting to live on campus grows.



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