Do you know who our students are? Not who our students were a decade ago, but who our students are today.
If you look at the registration summary for Fall 2019 (dated 11/4/2019), you will see that our credit headcount is 41,232 students. Of that, 11,682 students were new to ACC: a 4.1% increase over Fall 2018. Of the “new to ACC” students, 4,156 were in high school programs: a 14.4% increase over Fall 2018.
Re-read that last sentence. Our new students in high school programs (dual credit, P-TECHs, Early College High Schools) increased by 14.4% this Fall. By contrast, this Fall there are 7,526 traditional students who are new to ACC, a slight decline over last Fall of -0.8%.
What about continuing students? We have 4,372 continuing students in high school programs this Fall, an increase of 7.0% over last Fall. We have 25,178 continuing traditional students, a decline of -4.0% over Fall 2018.
What about Distance Education? We have 12,416 students in Distance Education classes this Fall, an increase of 11.1% over Fall 2018. 2,580 are new to ACC, and 9,836 are continuing students.
These numbers are not an aberration or an anomaly. They reflect a trend – our student population is changing. As of today (12/11/2019), our Spring numbers show an increase of 16.7% in new high school program students, and a decline of 6.0% in new “traditional” students. Our continuing high school program numbers have jumped by 12.9% over Spring 2019, while our continuing traditional student numbers are currently -2.0% below last Spring. Our Distance Education numbers show an overall increase of 7.9% to date over Spring 2019.
In other words, our Distance Ed students make up approximately 30% of our overall enrollments, and our dual credit students make up slightly more than 20% of our overall enrollments.
These numbers mean we are serving different students in different settings than we did in 2009.
Do these numbers mean we should be thinking differently about how we help them learn?
Should we be thinking differently about what it means to be a college student as we head into 2020?
Should we rethink our understanding of our student population?
Should we celebrate who they are, rather than thinking nostalgically about who they were ten or twenty years ago?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Image credits: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay; TheDigitalArtist from Pixabay