Enrollment stacks up

Karla Enriquez, News Editor

Photo Illustration depicts students staking ontop of each other. It is a metaphor for the increase in student enrollment.
Photo Illustration depicts students stacking on top of each other. It is a metaphor for the increase in student enrollment.

Has a student ever wondered why he is sitting in a Cerritos College classroom? Did the environment and majors offered play a part in the decision or was it a given?

Whatever the answer to those questions may be, the size of the college population went up 2.6 percent.

According to Dr. JoAnna Schilling, vice president of Academic Affairs, the number is not static and it goes up and down daily according to how many students drop or enroll.

Schilling said that as of Sept. 3 the number of enrolled students was 23,361 as opposed to the 22,770 from 2014.

President of Cerritos College Dr. Jose Fierro attributes the number to the strategic approach in offering courses.

He said, “At this point it’s a lot of speculation because it is not really concrete to say people are coming here for x and y, […]”

“We are trying to offer courses that are part of the degree completion programs and make more of those available.”

Fierro stated that while the Cerritos College enrollment trend is moving upward, other community colleges have low enrollment.

“I was monitoring an email thread on the state and many campuses are low in enrollment and I was in a meeting with some community college presidents and it was only a couple of us that had high enrollment,” he said.

Fierro expressed that the reasons for low enrollment in other colleges are unknown and can vary due to different community needs and differences in population.

Schilling said, “We hope that students are attracted to Cerritos College because they know the college is invested in their success.

“Our faculty and counselors truly care what happens to each student. We also try to be responsive to student requests for improvement and the college is committed to adding key classes when and where needed.”

Schilling explained that while other colleges were cutting classes during the recession, Cerritos College didn’t cut back as much and were quickly able to add classes.

“If a student can get [his] core courses at Cerritos College, feels engaged in the classes and activities at Cerritos, makes friends and gets to know [his] professors, there is no reason to leave,” Schilling said.

Fierro agrees that activities help keep students at Cerritos College.

He believes student engagement like clubs, student government and the other organizations in which students become active help contribute to the retention rate.

Fierro expressed that services provided to students also play an instrumental part in why students choose to come and stay at Cerritos College.

Schilling stated that services such as iFalcon and the new K16 Bridge to College program are integral for student success.

She also said that pathway and support programs like Puente, which helps improve college attendance of underrepresented students, EOPS, a service for economically and educationally disadvantaged students and Project Hope, a support program for underrepresented students in the healthcare or science field are important.

According to Schilling it has been proven that the Success Center, which provides tutoring for students, has helped students do better.

Professors and majors offered also come into consideration.

“Our professors definitely play a key role in why students come to and stay at Cerritos College. Our faculty is engaged with the students in their classes, serve as club advisors and encourage students to speak up and advocate for their education, and advise students on how to be successful in their chosen major,” Schilling said.

Fierro discussed how majors offered at Cerritos College are of high interest and high demand, such as business.

“Our business program is amazing; so once the word gets out, [students] want to be part of the program because it’s a good program.

“I will also say that the federal report shows that Cerritos College is first on transfers. The Los Angeles Times report had a lot to do because it gave us great exposure. People want to be in a place where they think they can do well, so I think that has helped significantly,” Fierro stated.

Ultimately, the college’s goal is to have students finish their classes quickly so they are able to move on with their education.