LUMBERTON — Robeson Community College officials hope enhancing services administered to students when they first enroll at the college will slow a declining enrollment and lead to more students completing their academic programs.
“We are going to become more focused on intake, from the time the student reaches the point of interest in attending the college until they start attending their first classes, ” Mark Kinlaw, RCC’s vice president of Instruction and Support Services, told the college’s board of trustees on Monday. “We have to increase our efforts at keeping the students we already have.”
According to Kinlaw, RCC’s current student enrollment is down 471 from last spring’s total of 2,004 students. He said, however, that this downward trend in enrollment numbers is occurring at almost all of the state’s community colleges as well as the state’s universities..
Kinlaw said there are a number of reasons why a student may drop out of school, ranging from conflict with employment and family responsibilities, to lack of financial resources to unsatisfactory academic progress.
To provide more coordination in the services students receive when they first enroll at the college, RCC’s Administration, Financial Aid, and Records and Registration departments are being combined into the Enrollment Services Department. The department will be under the leadership of one administrator in order to ensure “consistency,” according to Pamela Hilbert, RCC’s president.
“We are modeling this after other community colleges,” Hilbert said. “This will not change the number of staff or work within the departments. We are just changing how the departments are working together.”
Hilbert said that the college has to work on retaining its students and “get a better handle” on why students are dropping out.
“We are losing students between the time they apply and the time they actually enroll,” she said.
Also on Monday, JoAnn Oxendine told the trustees about customized training projects that RCC is conducting with area companies, including Campbell’s Soup; Graphics Packaging; Prestage Farms; Trinity Foods; and Stephen Roberts Original Desserts and Ticklebelly Desserts.
Oxendine said there are certain requirements that a business must meet to be eligible for the program. Projects are customized to meet the specific needs of each business, she said.
“The business has to make a substantial capital investment, create jobs and emphasize the use of some new technology,” she said.
Oxendine told the board that there is no “direct charge” to the companies that use RCC’s services.
“The purpose is that we want to encourage job creation,” she said.
In other business, the trustees on Monday:
— Were updated by Al McRae, an RCC vice president, on the progress of a new roof being put on Building 12, located on the college’s campus in Lumberton. McRae said the roofing work will be finished within the next two weeks if the weather permits.
— Heard from Vice President Channing Jones, who said that in the fall eight of the nine students who took the test for EMT certification passed on their first try. Jones also said that all 10 students who took the test for Medical Responder in the fall passed on their first attempt.