College enrollments took a dive during and following the COVID 19 pandemic, but a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center has college and university officials hopeful that better days are ahead. Enrollment numbers for Spring 2023 appear to be stabilizing and, in some cases, increasing.

Community colleges saw the biggest gains and Spoon River College was one of them, with a 2.3% increase in credit hours compared to last spring.

“We are thrilled to see so many students are selecting Spoon River College and creating this significant increase in the Spring 2023 enrollment,” said President Oldfield. “Our college-wide enrollment growth was fueled by a large growth at the Canton campus, and an increase of students taking college classes while still in high school.”

“In addition to enrollment growth on the Canton Campus, the Macomb Campus as well as our Havana and Rushville centers all saw a stable to slightly higher enrollment, although we did see a slight decline of online enrollment,” Oldfield said.

The college also experienced a 6% decline in full-time students, but it was offset by a 22% increase in part-time students for an overall 9% gain. “Many of our students—both full-time and part-time—work or have other outside commitments, which impacts the number of classes they can take at one time,” said Missy Wilkinson, dean of student services.

“Being aware of that, we make it a point to provide flexibility and convenience in course scheduling to better meet their needs. We also increased our retention of current students, an indicator of how well our students are performing and enjoying their experience at Spoon River College.”

In the area of dual credit enrollment (high school students taking college classes), enrollment was up almost 35% from last spring, resulting in an 44% increase in those credit hours.

This uptick was the result of an Illinois Community College Board Bridge Grant, written by Holly Norton, vice president of educational and student services at Spoon River College. It granted all dual credit students enrolled with Spoon River College a full scholarship for tuition and fees for the 2022-2023 academic year.

“This grant provided a great opportunity for high school students to get an early start on college courses. We are elated that so many took advantage of this opportunity and are hopeful they will want to continue their journey with Spoon River College,” Norton said.

Wilkinson added that providing support services to meet the needs of all students would remain a high priority. “We’re excited to welcome new students and help them succeed.”

Oldfield recognized that recovering from the pandemic had been challenging, but is hopeful that the upward trend will continue. “Everyone at Spoon River College has been very focused on student success, student retention and new student recruitment. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff.”