Last updated on September 20, 2020
By Evie Shaye Herndon
Volunteer State Community College has seen a decrease in enrollment this semester.
A 3.4 percent decrease in enrollment was recorded this semester, compared to Fall 2019, according to The College System of Tennessee. That equals 310 fewer students enrolled at Vol State, leaving the college with an enrollment of 8,836 students this fall.
This loss of students cannot completely be linked to the uprising of the global pandemic; however, the wakes of the virus have contributed to Vol State student enrollment.
“Although we do not have specific data, we know anecdotally that some students decided to take a gap year. Others felt they would not do well in the mostly online or hybrid learning environment and decided to take some time off. Some just simply had too much on their plate with trying to go to school, make ends meet, and facing the possibility of homeschooling their children,” said Tim Amyx, Director of Admissions and College Registrar.
Also, it was recorded that Full-Time Equivalency or FTE, was down 5.6 percent. The reasoning for this drop can vary, but one of the main contributors to the decline can be linked to the Tennessee Promise and changes, they had to make due to the pandemic.
“Tennessee Promise students are allowed to attend part-time, which may have resulted in some students taking fewer classes,” said Jennifer James, Communication Studies faculty member.
“One of the biggest challenges in admissions remains how to give a socially distanced and effective campus tour. We’re working on some innovative ideas to make alternative tour options for prospective students who don’t feel comfortable visiting in person,” said Amyx.
Although COVID 19 has caused inconveniences for Vol State faculty, staff and students, it has also opened some new opportunities that may be able to advance enrollment in the future, said James and Amyx.
“Some opportunities we have seen as a result of the pandemic has been in resources made possible by the CARES Act, we have been able to purchase technology (laptops, Chromebook, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.) and hire additional academic coaches to help students transition to online learning. We also implemented virtual admissions, advising and testing, so that students could apply for college, take their placement testing (which many needed because they did not have ACT scores this year), get advising via Zoom, and get registered for classes all without coming to campus. I’m sure that some of these engagement strategies will continue to be used beyond the time of COVID 19 because they have been so successful,” said James.
“I think the good thing that has come from COVID is it pushed us to innovate in new ways to serve our students,” said Amyx.