While enrollment in area community colleges appears to be lagging, the same isn’t true for Bladen Community College, where numbers are looking strong and could even surpass last fall’s record-breaking figure.
While there might be a number of reasons for the positive numbers, it all really boils down to one specific factor, according to BCC President William Findt — a grassroots recruitment effort by BCC’s faculty and staff.
“We have worked hard to reach potential students and let them know that Bladen Community College is here to help them in whatever way we can to attain the skills necessary to gain employment in today’s economic environment,” said Findt. “All of the college staff have worked around the county to get the message out.”
The message that potential students hear is that BCC is their hometown higher-learning center to train for their life’s work. That seems to be resonating with those who are looking for a place to experience what college life has to offer. Early numbers showed that more than 1,280 students had enrolled at BCC by Aug. 7, including more than 300 new students, and the college was looking at another 70 high-school students who planned to enroll in the Career and College Promise technical programs.
This uptick in enrollment at BCC is in sharp contrast to its peers in Robeson and Sampson counties, where the numbers aren’t quite as positive.
Robeson Community College is in the midst of a 34-percent drop in enrollment over the past two years, and has reguistered about 1,000 less students thus far for the fall semester than it had last year at the same time. An editorial in The Robesonian recently claimed about RCC’s enrollment that, “The decline in enrollment is bad news that promises to get worse.”
Sampson Community College isn’t seeing quite as drastic a decline, but its numbers for the fall semester do reflect a dip. General student enrollment, as of Aug. 18, was at 1,443, which is about 100 less than the approximately 1,540 who attended SCC in Fall 2013.
Other community colleges in the region are feeling similar pangs of diminishing enrollment, and with the sting of budget cuts still fresh, having fewer students walking the campuses isn’t helping.
So we give plenty of kudos to the administration and faculty at BCC for being one of the very few shining stars. While we’ve always held the college in high regard for its quality programs and even higher quality instructors, it appears that the rest of Bladen County recognizes those assets as well.