Thomas Nelson Community College is struggling with declining enrollment and the coronavirus pandemic has not helped either.
“Thomas Nelson attributes much of the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement of most of its classes to an online format,” Steven Felker, director of institutional research and effectiveness at the college, said in a prepared statement. “The pandemic has caused great uncertainty for many prospective students and has caused them to defer enrollment in college.”
“Additionally, the shift to online instruction has been a challenge for those community college students who do not have access to a computer and/or reliable high-speed internet service,” he added.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, TNCC had pushed “a percentage” of fall classes to a later start date ––four weeks–– to allow more students to “take advantage of fall offerings,” Susan English, vice president of Academic Affairs and Workforce Development, said in a prepared statement.
English noted the college catered the fall course offerings with “high-demand” classes and offered a 5-week session “high-demand transfer courses,” which starts Nov. 4, the day after the election.
“These courses are part of the Passport program, a statewide initiative that ensures specific courses will transfer from the community college to state and private universities,” she added of the high demand classes.
Despite the delayed start of the fall semester and the condensed five-week session, TNCC is seeing enrollment rates drop in most programs, including technical education programs such as nursing and dental hygiene.
Compared to last year, student enrollment for the fall semester is down 6.6 percent and for full-time students, the enrollment is down 8.6 percent, Felker wrote in an email.
“As of Tuesday, Oct. 27 (the most recent available data), there were 6,192 academic credit students enrolled for fall 2020,” he wrote. “The corresponding full-time student equivalent (FTES) number was 3,576. Our latest projections suggest that the College will end the Fall 2020 semester down approximately 10-12% in both student headcount and FTES.”
However, TNCC is seeing an uptick in enrollment in certain fields since the pandemic started, including Computer Science, Information Technology – Programming and Administration of Justice, he added.
One thing that hasn’t changed? The age of the students enrolling in classes at TNCC.
Felker said people age 25 and older continue to make up 40 percent of the student population not including those enrolled in high school dual enrollment courses.
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