JC officials happy with stable enrollment resultsJamestown College’s fall 2012 enrollment may only be seven students more from the same time a year ago, but college officials are excited about the current state of the institution.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
By Brian Willhide
The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown College’s fall 2012 enrollment may only be seven students more from the same time a year ago, but college officials are excited about the current state of the institution.
“We’re always hoping we’ll be able to grow and bring in more students, but we’re happy with where we are this year,” said Tena Lawrence, dean of enrollment management at JC.
Fall enrollment is at 946 students, up half a percent from last year’s total of 939 students.
JC President Bob Badal said the college plans to grow that number to as many as 1,200 students in the future, but said JC is in a good position considering the current state of employment and the economy.
“We certainly need to find ways to grow, but at the same time, given the fact that a lot of schools within our region are really struggling with enrollment due to housing shortages, the overall economy and a number of students dropping out to look for opportunities out west, I feel very good about where we are,” he said.
About one-third of this year’s total is composed of new students — including mostly freshmen and some transfer students.
“We’ve got another good class this year,” said Gary Van Zinderen, dean of students at JC. “The thing I love about being able to work at a college is the amount of energy that new students bring to the campus each year.”
Already the JC faculty has been impressed with this year’s freshmen class, according to Lawrence.
“Those especially in our ‘Journey’ program, which is basically our orientation program for new students, have been very impressed with our new students and that’s always a good sign,” she said. “They’ve been very engaged and have a true feeling at home on campus already.”
While not all freshman students declare a major right away, Lawrence said a large number of this year’s class expressed interest in some of the mainstay fields of study at JC.
“Nursing is probably our biggest, with education and business usually following that,” she said. “Historically, that has been the college’s major programs.”
Some other fields of study have seen an increased amount of interest from new students this year, however.
“Some growing programs we have are exercise science, which is our newest degree program, as well as psychology and criminal justice,” Lawrence said. “All of those seem to be areas where interest is growing.”
In addition to a variety of interest in fields of study, a diverse group of students are once again hitting the campus sidewalks, with 35 states and 14 countries represented in this year’s overall enrollment.
“Diversity is a value we carry here as an institution, and since we live in a global society it’s great to have differences among every student at the college, no matter where they’re from,” Van Zinderen said.
While JC’s athletic programs prove to be one of the college’s biggest draws for students from outside North Dakota, Lawrence said the college’s foreign-exchange programs in addition to a wealth of information available these days on the Internet have been contributing factors as well.
“We’re seeing that students are willing to go a little further from home now, as opposed to maybe several years ago when many students weren’t as willing to branch away,” she said.
Fall enrollment numbers show an almost even gender balance as well, with females representing 51 percent of the student body and males 49 percent.
Badal hopes the college’s reputation will continue to grow and earn more national recognition.
“We’re spreading the net, so to speak, and as far as I’m concerned and as far as our recognition in U.S. News, we’re the No. 1 school in the state,” he said.
Under the classification of colleges — which focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines — Jamestown College was ranked the 37th best in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. That’s the highest ranking for an institution that falls under the college classification in all of North Dakota, which includes schools such as Dickinson State University, Mayville State University and Valley City State University.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org