Though community college enrollment across the state is fluctuating, the number of community college transfer students enrolling at the University is at an all-time high.
Dilip Das, the University’s assistant vice provost for academic affairs, said the number of community college transfer students at the University is the highest in the past six years, up by 60 students from last year. However, at community colleges across the state, numbers are varying from large increases to slight decreases.
Of the 1,016 community college transfer students at the University of Michigan this year, approximately 120-150 transferred from Washtenaw Community College, according to Das.
The University works closely with Washtenaw Community College through a special recruiting program with the college called Michigan-Pursuing Our Dreams, or M-POD. As part of the University’s Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, M-POD offers mentorship, one-on-one counseling and extra orientation sessions to help ease students through the transfer process.
“Our goal is to increase awareness among community college students about the option to transfer to Michigan,” Das said.
Das said he does not believe the University’s increased numbers related to decreases in enrollment at community colleges.
In comparison to the University, enrollment at Washtenaw Community College decreased this year compared to the 2010-2011 academic year. Numbers shot up at Oakland Community College and enrollment at Macomb Community College remained stable.
Kathy Currie, director of student records at Washtenaw Community College, said there was an 8.8-percent decrease in enrollment from last year. Currie said she believes cuts to federal programs such as No Worker Left Behind are largely responsible for the drop. She added that many education benefit programs offered by businesses to employees have been discontinued.
However, Currie said this fall’s decrease in enrollment puts WCC back at average attendance numbers. The school saw record enrollment in 2009 and 2010, she said.
Despite the change in enrollment numbers, very little has actually changed at Washtenaw Community College.
“We haven’t cut any services as a result of this,” Currie added.
While WCC has a smaller student body this year, Macomb Community College has had “virtually no difference” in attendance, said Howard Hughey, spokesman for Macomb Community College.
“We have not seen any abnormal increases or decreases from last year,” Hughey said.
With an opposite enrollment trend from WCC, the five campuses of Oakland Community College, saw an upward shift in student attendance this year. OCC Spokesman George Cartsonis, spokesman for Oakland Community College, said fall enrollment is at an all-time high with 29,262 students.
“We are the largest (community college) in the state, and the 25th largest in the nation,” Cartsonis said.
Many students choose OCC before transferring to a four-year university because of the college’s affordable credit hours, Cartsonis said. Many OCC students transfer to the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus after two years at OCC, and approximately 30-40 former OCC students enroll each year at the Ann Arbor campus.
“With higher education costs skyrocketing, community colleges are the student’s best bet,” Cartsonis said.