College bucks the tide

Enrollment makes a slight increase

Brenna Enos, [email protected]

Numbers are looking good for Los Medanos College and the surrounding cities this year: the economy is booming, unemployment rates in Contra Costa Country are at a record low and full-time students at LMC are increasing.

But why does the correlation between unemployment rates and student enrollment matter? Because these two factors do not typically coincide.

In previous years, when the economy was booming in the East Bay, LMC and the rest of the Contra Costa Community College District schools actually experienced a sharp decline in student enrollments. This year, however, the economy has not hindered the enrollment at all.

As of Sept. 6, 2017, the full-time student enrollment population at LMC sits at 3,622 — an increase of 49 students from the Fall of 2016, which had a full-time student population of 3,573. While the increase of students is not significantly large, it does show that despite the odds stacked against LMC, the student population continues to prosper.

“We have traditionally associated a strong economy and a low unemployment rate with coinciding lower enrollments,” explained LMC Vice President Kevin Horan. “The economy is still going strong and unemployment rates in Contra Costa County remain at a record low. The LMC services area, however, is a growing population.”

One possible reason for the student population growth could be attributed to increased housing production in the East Bay. As stated by the U.S. Census Bureau, between Apr. 1, 2010 and July 1, 2016 the Contra Costa County population increased by 8.2 percent, and continues to rise today.

According to Horan, another reason for the positive enrollment could be credited to LMC itself.

“The college has been hard at work with numerous initiatives to either increase enrollments and/or increase the retention rate of students currently enrolled,” Horan commented.

The major departments at the college have also been hard at work to keep their students engaged in learning. Nancy Ybarra, Dean of Liberal Arts at LMC, advocates that through the betterment of scholastic programs and forward thinking, LMC can attract more students to enroll or continue their education at the campus.

“The faculty in the Social Sciences department are innovative and forward thinking, and the addition of an AA-T degree in History is likely to increase enrollments and interest in that discipline,” explained Ybarra. “We have a new faculty member in the Political Sciences, Ryan Hiscocks, and he is very excited about collaborating with veteran department members on new ideas for Political Science.”

For some students, the ideologies of Horan and Ybarra prove true. First-year student Peyton Hamblin enrolled at LMC after deciding to leave the four-year college she was attending to pursue better opportunities for herself.

“I needed something more stable and a familiar academic setting to focus on getting better. Community college provides that for people, especially a local one,” explained Hamblin, on her decision to leave a four-year college. “We’re getting such a wonderful education here — I’ve really fallen in love with LMC.”