While total headcount for North Idaho College students in fall 2012 is down slightly from fall 2011, enrollment numbers show that those students are taking more classes than ever before.
The total headcount at NIC is 6,574 students for the fall of 2012, which is down 2.6 percent from last fall’s 6,751. Total full-time equivalency is actually up, however, increasing 1.4 percent from fall 2011, demonstrating that fewer students are taking heavier class loads.
“NIC’s fall enrollment numbers reflect trends on the national scale where years of unprecedented growth is beginning to level off,” said North Idaho College President Joe Dunlap. “NIC’s enrollment is up nearly 50 percent from where it was in 2007, yet the college’s operational budget did not mimic that steep growth, rather holding at a more moderate increase of 23 percent. This demonstrates well the quality programs and services that North Idaho College is able to provide while remaining a responsible financial steward.”
In the past, NIC released its enrollment numbers on the 10th day of fall semester. Along with other institutions in the state, however, this year NIC is releasing enrollment numbers after Oct. 15 as these figures depict a more accurate snapshot of enrollment, accounting for students who have withdrawn or have been dropped for nonpayment as well as dual credit students who have not yet started classes at their high schools by the 10th day of NIC enrollment.
The 10th day enrollment number this year and the Oct. 15 report showed a difference of 32 students, most of which can be attributed to the thoroughness of this new accounting date affecting dual credit numbers. Dual credit students, or juniors and seniors who can take classes at NIC for both high school and college credit, continue to represent the largest segment of growth at NIC, increasing about 5 percent from 646 in the fall of 2011 to 678 in the fall of 2012. A total of 20 students were included in the counts this year that may have not been reported with previous accounting methods because of overlap in the start of NIC fall classes and the high school calendar.
Professional-technical enrollment was down in both headcount and full-time equivalency, from 945 students in fall 2011 to 823 this fall. NIC Dean of Professional, Technical, and Workforce Education Mike Mires noted that many of the decreases in professional-technical headcount were in second-year programs and typically in high-demand fields such as welding, diesel technology and machining. According to Mires, this depicts what he calls “job-outs,” meaning students earn jobs in high demand fields after completing a one-year certificate, so there’s little necessity for continuing on for a two-year degree.
Still, the leveling of enrollment that NIC is experiencing coupled with added emphasis on retention efforts is already creating results, according to NIC Vice President for Student Services Graydon Stanley.
“The number of degrees and certificates awarded is actually up 32 percent over the past year,” Stanley said. “NIC’s high enrollment growth over the past six years caused the college to adapt quickly to get a record number of students into classes. With limited space though, the classes they were able to get into weren’t always a perfect fit for their academic goals. But with more manageable growth these past few years, we’re able to serve our students better now and we’re seeing that trend forming in increased retention rates, which is one of North Idaho College’s key strategic plan objectives in line with state and national efforts focused on improving graduation rates.”
Complimenting NIC’s increase in full-time equivalency, NIC’s full-time to part-time ratio increased from 52-48 percent in the fall of 2011 to 54-46 percent in 2012. The average age of a student at NIC was 27 years old, as it was in fall 2011. The percentage of women enrolled at NIC in fall 2012 is 60 percent and the top majors at NIC continue to be general studies at the top with 2,213 students followed by business and education.
A complete fall 2012 enrollment report will be presented to the NIC Board of Trustees at its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 in the Edminster Student Union Building Lake Coeur d’Alene Room.