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Local News

Joliet Junior College spring enrollment steadily drops

Hispanic student population continues rising

Joliet Junior College's main campus.
Joliet Junior College's main campus.

JOLIET — Joliet Junior College spring enrollment numbers continue to decline – but online enrollment has more than doubled, and the Hispanic student population is rising more.

Joseph Offermann, JJC Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness director, gave an update last week on JJC student enrollment to the Board of Trustees, showing the college ranks fifth among all Illinois community colleges in headcount and full-time equivalent enrollment.

The spring headcount for JJC is 14,442, a 9.1 percent decrease from spring 2015 and the full-time equivalent – reflecting a full-time class load for students – is 8,050, a 7.1 percent decrease from last spring. 

Both headcount and full-time equivalent enrollment continue to decline as JJC comes off what Offermann said were banner years in enrollment, which were between 2009 and 2013. 

“We have nothing really to beat ourselves up about. … We’re working through it with student development area and enrollment management,” Offermann said.

Online enrollment more than doubled since 2007 by 107.3 percent, according to Offermann’s presentation.  

With 25.3 percent of the student population being Hispanic for the spring semester, he said JJC is at the point of becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI. 

According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, HSIs are defined as colleges, universities, systems or districts where the total Hispanic enrollment consists of a minimum of 25 percent of total enrollment.

The college won’t see the designation from the U.S. Department of Education but it can still be designate itself as one or through HACU, he said.

“Right now there are 10 institutions in Illinois that are an HSI. We want to be at No. 11,” Offermann said.

JJC is still seeing a declining trend of students who are 25 or older, he said. The college saw an uptick in this category during the Great Recession – lasting from 2007 to 2009, according to the Economic Policy Institute – and there is a correlation between the economic crisis and the college’s enrollment, he said.

“They were coming here getting their education. …They were training for new jobs. So, that’s what we’re attributing a lot of the decline. They got their credential, they got their degree or certificate and they moved on,” he said. 

Board Vice Chairman Andrew Mihelich said JJC should be reflective of its community in terms of enrollment and he requested to see a breakdown of enrollment by race and age. 

He said he believed the college should be concerned with the number of black, non-Hispanic students and there should also be a focus on black males. 

“See if we have an issue there and something that needs to be addressed by this institution,” he said.

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BY THE NUMBERS

JJC spring headcount enrollment

• 2016: 14,442

• 2015: 15,888

• 2014: 16,735

• 2013: 17,706

• 2012: 16,079

JJC spring full-time equivalent enrollment

• 2016: 8,050

• 2015: 8,663

• 2014: 8,962

• 2013: 9,495

• 2012: 9,461

Source: Illinois Community College Board

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