Rowan-Cabarrus Transfer Program Enrollment Up, Technical Education Slighlty Down


“We are working to market the value of college training and education, job futures and career opportunities in both of our counties, in addition to demonstrating the value of beginning one’s education with us before transferring to the four-year university or college.”

 KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has experienced an increase in enrollment this spring in its transfer programs such as Associate in Arts (AA), Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) and Associate in Science (AS). At the same time, enrollment in the college’s Associate in Applied Science (AAS) programs have declined slightly, down about six percent compared to 2012.

 “We’re seeing an increase in the number of students desiring to transfer to a four-year institution,” said Gaye McConnell, vice president of student services and enrollment management at Rowan-Cabarrus. “Some of this increase can be attributed to students and families recognizing the value of the community college in starting their higher education degree.”

 The total headcount of enrolled students is 6,346 students which is a 1.75 percent decline from spring 2012. The overall fulltime enrollment data (FTE) for spring 2013 showed an estimated decline of 2.83 percent compared to spring 2012.

 “The college is working to increase enrollment overall in curriculum courses and programs through better customer service to our community patrons and students, and through improved retention efforts within the semester and into the next semester,” said McConnell. “The final spring enrollment figures are still unknown as we have expanded course offerings to include compressed eight-week and four-week hybrid courses which are still open for registration. The potential gain in enrollment from these classes may reduce the current FTE loss to nearly zero, resulting in flat enrollment.”

 Historically, community college enrollment increases when unemployment increases and vice versa. This pattern is true today. Over the course of the last year, employment numbers improved somewhat with unemployment in Rowan County going from 11.1 percent to 9.7 percent and from 10.1 percent to 8.7 percent in Cabarrus County (based upon the most recent data available for December 2012).

 “The college has heard from students that they have had discontinue their studies and find some kind of work, often part-time, because unemployment benefits have run out,” said McConnell. “We have also had similar feedback from surrounding community colleges with colleges reporting anywhere from a two to 12 percent decrease in enrollment.”

 This past year, the North Carolina Community College System as a whole experienced a decline in curriculum student enrollment.

 “Some of this decline can also be attributed to the college having our two largest graduating classes ever in 2011 and 2012. Additionally, we are also seeing the decline of educational funding for displaced workers, and the maxing out of all available funding as a result of unemployment benefits,” continued McConnell.

 The college will continue efforts to increase not only transfer program enrollment, but to increase enrollment in the Associate in Applied Science areas, as the emphasis on technical education for job readiness in demand from regional employers.

 “My biggest concern is that people in our community are losing hope. I’m afraid that the bleak economic outlook is causing people to become discouraged and think that education doesn’t matter, that nothing is going to help them get a job,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

 “Today’s market demands educated, skilled well-trained workers with savvy technical and computer skills as well as team-oriented, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We are confident that those individuals who have taken the time to improve their skills will be first in line for jobs when things turn around. If you don’t take advantage of training and education now, you risk being at the back of the line,” continued Spalding.

 Recruitment and marketing is an increased focus for the college. Outreach activities have extended to high school graduating seniors and rising juniors, highlighting the success of the college’s 2013 graduates.

 Through the college’s GED (General Education Development) program, 256 students have successfully acquired their high school equivalency diploma since July 2012. The 2013 class of GED graduates is poised to be larger than last year’s 411 graduates.

 “It is critical that 2013 be the year that you get your GED,” said Spalding. “The current version of the GED test will be replaced on January 2, 2014. Those who have taken the GED test since 2002, but who have not passed all five parts, have until the end of 2013 to pass, or they will need to start over again in 2014 in order to receive their high school equivalency credential.”

 “We also expect that the national GED provider will increase the cost of testing substantially,” said Gary Connor, director of the college’s GED and Adult Basic Education programs.

 According to the GED Testing Service, more than a million Americans have started, but not completed, the current GED test.

 “Our GED graduates are not just improving their lives; they are improving those of their families and communities,” said Carl M. Short, chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees. “If you don’t have a high school diploma, I urge you to contact Rowan-Cabarrus today.”

 “Today’s unemployment rates are evidence that without a high school diploma or a GED, future salary is limited to near poverty levels,” said Spalding. “By all means, use 2013 to complete your high school equivalent education so you can better prepare for the years ahead. Encourage anyone you know to do the same. Rowan-Cabarrus is ready to help.”

 The college offers free GED classes in the morning, afternoon and evening most days of the week. Please contact Gary Connor for more information at gary.connor@rccc.edu or 704-216-3723.

 Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has new classes beginning year-round. Career counselors are ready and available at both the primary campuses and the R3 Center in Kannapolis to work with students to develop career training plans. For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).


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