Enrollment numbers increase despite pandemic

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Screenshot taken from an enrollment presentation given by Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson, interim assistant superintendent/vice president of Instruction and Planning, and Edward Aguilar, assistant dean for Outreach, Equity, and Student Services, at the Aug. 18 Board of Trustees meeting.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and difficulties that have come with the transition to online instruction, enrollment at Delta College is up at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester.

As of Aug. 18, the student count was 16,937 and the unit count was 159,320, according to data provided by Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson, interim assistant superintendent/vice president of Instruction and Planning, and Edward Aguilar, assistant dean for Outreach, Equity, and Student Services.

In comparison, the student count was 15,985 and the unit count was 152,068 on Aug. 20, 2019.

This means there is a difference of 952, or 5.6 percent, in student count and a difference of 7,252, or 4.6 percent, in unit count from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020.

“I think this is particularly remarkable considering COVID-19 and the situation that we’re in right now, that students are finding us and coming to the college,” Lawrenson said in a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees. “I think it’s very positive.”

However, Lawrenson did note there are some mitigating factors that could affect enrollment, such as the pandemic and the lack of interest in taking college courses from students in feeder schools.

One way the institution is trying to combat this, Aguilar said, is by hosting a series of application workshops.

The application workshops are typically held every Tuesday and Thursday in May, but are being expanded to fall as well.

The first part of the workshop is meant “to ensure that students have direct access to staff to help them through their applications,” Aguilar said.

The second part of the workshop, he said, is “to ensure that students enroll and meet with a counselor.”

According to Aguilar, there is an estimated 50 percent participation rate in the first part of the workshop and an estimated 65 percent participation rate in the second part.

“These are pretty good numbers for new applicants and students who have not attended college,” he said.

The next application workshops are set to be held on Sept. 15 and Sept. 17 at 10:00 a.m. on Zoom. More details can be found at deltacollege.edu/events.

“It’s important to let the community know that Delta’s here for them if they ever want to attend, whenever they desire,” Aguilar said.

In addition, Delta College will be offering application workshops for prospective students who speak Spanish or are undocumented immigrants.

Aguilar also reported he and his team are going to be taking a new approach in their outreach effort to increase enrollment of underrepresented populations.

Feeder schools will be separated into three tiers, depending upon the student population’s need for extra guidance.

All schools will receive basic outreach services, but more focus will be placed on schools which fall into the Tier One category.

“We’re finding there’s more African American, more Latinx students and more low-income students in this particular set of schools,” he said. “We’re going to go deeper and wider in our partnership with them.”

This will include the promotion of the Early College High School program, more opportunities for dual enrollment courses, and assistance in filing for financial aid.

“Overall, enrollment has been improving,” Lawrenson said at the same meeting. “I’m glad to see that it’s growing. It’s really important for the community.”