At a time when college enrollment is declining nationwide, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges has had four consecutive semesters of enrollment gains.. District-wide enrollment is up 1.69 percent this Spring as compared to the Spring of 2022.
“I am obviously very pleased with the positive trend in our enrollment,” said IECC Chancellor Dr. Ryan Gower. “Andrea Loll and her team have done an excellent job developing a plan and building relationships with area schools and prospective students.”
IECC hired Andrea Loll as the Director of Enrollment Management in 2021 and three new College Admissions Representatives, Tyson Murray, Curtis Miller, and Dane Inman were brought on in 2022 to join Carrie Halbert. The formation of this team comes at a time when college student enrollment dropped by about 1.9 million students over the last decade. The team is preparing for the looming higher education “enrollment cliff”, which could see continued declines in enrollment of 10-15 percent nationwide after 2025. “IECC is not simply working to attract new students,: said Gower. “We are working to change processes and strengthen systems to improve student outcomes and experiences from entry to graduation.”
“I was thrilled with the positive growth in our enrollment numbers,” said Loll. “I have a great team in place and they are the foundation of our enrollment process. Carrie Halbert, our veteran recruiter and has been instrumental in leading our recruitment team. The team looks to her for guidance with situations and to bounce ideas off of.”
Loll said the team has been active in coming up with new activities and events for prospective students. Another thing the team has been doing is reaching out to new groups like the homeschool community.
“During the past few months, a focus has been to reach out to the homeschool community and provide activities and events to educate them about IECC,” said Halbert. “In addition, the recruiters are excited about working with all populations to inform them what IECC can offer.”
Gower believes one of the reasons why IECC has seen growing enrollment is because of its unique degree and certificate programs. Frontier Community College and Wabash Valley College recently started new high-demand medical programs.
Frontier Community College’s Medical Laboratory Technician program helps people prepare to work in medical labs where they help test, interpret results, and help doctors correctly diagnose and treat symptoms. The median salary for medical and clinical laboratory technicians is $58,000 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 11 percent growth in jobs in the next decade.
Wabash Valley College’s Physical Therapist Assistant program is designed to help students prepare to be service-oriented patient care providers. There’s a strong demand in the field with the employment of physical therapist assistants and aides expected to grow by 24 percent between now and 2031 according to the BLS. The median salary for physical therapist assistants is $62,000.
Gower says Lincoln Trail College’s Broadband Telecom program is the only one of its kind in Illinois and one of the few in the country. Students train in fiber optic and copper cabling, computer hardware and software, networking, and home and business phone systems. The BLS says the median salary for telecommunications equipment installers is $60,000 with a projected nine percent growth in jobs.
Olney Central College’s Collision Repair Technology degree lets students get hands-on experience repairing body and frame damage to vehicles. There’s a projected seven percent growth in jobs with a median salary of $46,000 according to the BLS.
Gower says another key for IECC is a belief in making sure students receive one-on-one attention to set them up for success. “What sets IECC apart from other schools is that our employees understand that enrollment management is not just about getting new students. Our faculty and staff do an excellent job making sure our current students have the resources they need in order to be successful.”
IECC is currently preparing for the Fall ’23 semester. All four colleges have a March 17 Priority Registration Deadline. Students applying by March 17 and completing their FAFSA are eligible for internal and external scholarships.
“Attending any of our four Colleges is already a financially smart choice for students,” said Gower. “Students that attend any one of our colleges can expect to receive a high-quality education. When you add in our scholarships, many students find that they can earn a degree from IECC without being burdened with debt that can often come from attending other colleges and universities. We encourage you to apply today and see how IECC can help you achieve your educational goals.”