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Programs hold out on rising enrollment

Mattheau Faught

Enrollment spiked with 69,224 students for fall as of Oct. 1.

Admissions noted increases across online and face-to-face learning modalities, said Beatriz Joseph, vice chancellor of student success. Fall 2023 marks the first fall to fall enrollment increase since the pandemic, but participation in student programs lags.

“I don’t think [students] know there’s a STEM center here,” said Fabiola Resendiz, STEM League advisor.

More students on campus affords some hope about generating movement in the STEM League, however.

“Music to my ears,” Resendiz said. “It means more opportunities for students to join.”

Programs such as the STEM League are biding their time as the effects of increased enrollment happen gradually.

The current enrollment goal meets the mark, and admissions predicts the figure will rise come the second certification date.

“We are seeing positive trends in enrollment this fall,” Joseph said. “We are on track to meet our enrollment goals, but we need to wait until the second eight weeks registration closes.”

The campus could be packed to the brim with students, but student engagement is another metric.

Part of what keeps the STEM center visible is the advisor’s availability. Despite her focus on the Eastfield chapter, she occasionally bounces between campuses.

The few student employees in the STEM League can only work 19.5 hours, leaving several spots where the STEM center has no one in the room.

“If I wasn’t here, then who would be that acting resource,” Resendiz said.

Before fall 2023, enrollment declined between 2020 and 2022, but some students are better than none.

“It goes to show that people are ready to get back into their academic pathways,” said Carlos Contreras, career and transfer specialist.

Since fall 2022, some programs have begun to reap the rewards from a return to in-person classes. Enrollment into the Ascender transfer-prep program jumped from last year’s count. 

However, the current numbers indicate “room for growth,” said Contreras. He takes solace in knowing that Eastfield’s halls have students in them.

“Many students need face-to-face learning,” Contreras said. “As we continue to move toward it, we’ll have more students on campus taking these courses.”

With enough marketing and time, Contreras hopes that student engagement with programs will eventually reflect on the climbing enrollment figure.

“As students get involved, not just with clubs, they become complete,” Resendiz said.

Rates for in-person learning have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, but admissions has confirmed that it continues to climb. Looking around campus, advisors such as Resendiz are delighted by the sight of so many students.

“You can’t have academics without some kind of campus engagement,” Resendiz said. “[Employers] like what they see on your transcript, but they also want to see what you’ve done to gain experience outside the classroom.”

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CARMEN GUZMAN, Editor in Chief
Mattheau Faught
Mattheau Faught, Presentation Editor

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