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Fall 2017 Enrollment Grows

Enrollment numbers at Lincoln Trail College continue to look positive as the Fall 2017 reimbursable FTE is up four-percent as compared to the same period last year. This fall’s enrollment is also the highest reimbursable FTE level the college has seen in the last five years.

LTC President Dr. Ryan Gower says last fall, the college ended the Fall term with a zero-percent gain/loss over the Fall 2015 term. A year ago, the college established a goal of 2-3 percent growth for the Fall 2017 term. He says this year’s growth is worth celebrating.

“Our growing enrollment means we are an exception to a state-wide trend in declining enrollment in higher education.  The State of Illinois exports more college students than any other state with the exception of California.  As a community college, an important part of our mission is to prepare students and workers to enrich our local communities.  We cannot do that to our fullest capacity if more and more of our local students seek education out of state.”

Gower believes that the news that enrollment is up is not only good for LTC, but also for Crawford County. He says when students leave the state, they are less likely to return home which results in population decline and brain drain. “The downward trend in college enrollment across the state is a far more serious issue than many people realize.  To date, the media has largely focused on the short-term impacts declining enrollment has on educational institutions – smaller budgets, job cuts, and hiring freezes.  These are serious matters, but they pale in comparison to the challenge declining enrollment will pose for our local communities in the years ahead.  When our students leave the state, they are less likely to return home.  The result is population decline and brain drain.  These are serious problems for all communities, but they impact smaller communities more quickly and in a more significant way.”

LTC has been reinvesting in its career and technical programs in an effort to help students prepare for jobs in the area. Gower says the majority of jobs in this area do not require a four-year degree. He notes that programs like Construction Technology and Welding both saw growth this fall. Gower says that’s important because he regularly hears from area employers like Marathon Petroleum and Duke Energy that they need people with those skills.

In addition to the career and technical programs, Lincoln Trail College is working to maintain a high-quality transfer program for students that plan to attend four-year universities. LTC has been investing in its STEM programs and bringing more technology into labs. Gower notes that instructors like An Roy have embraced technology. She started using a 3-D projector in her anatomy class this fall that allows students to look at anatomy in new ways. Her class is also using new software to view the parts of the human body (see page 4 for a story on this). 

Gower says that growing enrollment also shows that LTC is retaining more of the students who enroll with us. That means higher graduation and completion rates, two top priorities for LTC. Gower says the college is dedicated to working with students to complete their studies and that’s why LTC’s graduation rate is so much higher than other institutions of higher education in the area.

Gower says one of the biggest reasons for the increase in enrollment is the team of people at the college. He says the college has very talented advising and retention staff. LTC has also worked hard to build strong relationships with area high schools. Gower also believes a strong marketing department means that the college is doing a good job getting the word out about LTC. 

With a higher enrollment, Gower says it means more students are receiving an exceptional education at an affordable price. “Lincoln Trail continues to be one of the most highly ranked and rated community colleges in Illinois/the nation, and our cost of attendance is among the lowest in the state.  We do amazing things at Lincoln Trail, and we should be pleased that more students are being introduced to us.  Our faculty does a wonderful job preparing classes that are relevant, engaging, and impactful.”

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