East Central College saw a slight decline in its fall enrollment this year.
Total fall enrollment at the college — which has locations in Rolla, Sullivan, Warrenton and Washington in addition to the main campus in Union — is down 3.5 percent, making the 2013 fall semester the third consecutive year fewer students have signed up for fall classes at ECC, a trend administrators attribute to a slightly improving economy.
A total of 3,901 students are enrolled at ECC, down from 4,043 last fall. They are taking 37,670 credit hours.
“This trend is not unexpected and is consistent with what most community colleges across the state and nation are experiencing,” noted College President Jon Bauer.
“Since we’re open-admission, we tend to be somewhat countercyclical, meaning that when the economy worsens our enrollment goes up.
“Flat or shrinking high school graduation class sizes are also a factor,” he said. “Demographics are working against us. The number of traditional college age people is diminishing.
“Largely, we’re seeing a decrease in the returning non-traditional age students, and I think some of that is actually positive, community wise,” stated Bauer.
“The large number of adults who enrolled in 2009 and 2010 have completed their programs and moved into the workforce or transferred on to a four year college or university, so they have naturally moved off our census,” Bauer stated.
While ECC’s enrollment is down this semester, it still remains significantly higher than a decade ago, when fall enrollment totaled just over 3,200 students. ECC’s fall enrollment peaked in 2010 with 4,471 students.