College of Lake County is reporting a slight enrollment dip to start the new academic season, bucking a growth trend from the past couple of years.
Overall enrollment on the first day of classes Monday was at 16,566, CLC President Jerry Weber said during a meeting this week. That compares to a student tally of 17,173 on the first day of the fall semester in 2010.
But Weber added he expects CLC's numbers to climb past 17,000 "before all is said and done." Students still may enroll for fall semester classes at the community college.
"Usually in tough economic times, our enrollment tends to go up," he said. "So all of us are sort of wondering back and forth if this means something about the market exhaustion of higher education and people's capabilities, but we'll see."
In a report issued in January, the Illinois Community College Board stated a record number of students completed degree or certificate programs at the local schools for the 2009-10 academic season. There were 730,335 community college pupils statewide, the fourth highest total since the agency started keeping such figures in 1973.
Weber said enrollment this year is projected to level off at other schools, not just CLC, which has a main campus in Grayslake and branches in Vernon Hills and Waukegan. CLC officials reported an enrollment jump of more than 1,700 students from 2008 to 2010.
Meanwhile, Weber praised a retooled freshmen seminar attended by 800 students on Aug. 11 and 12. Feedback from last year's freshmen indicated they wanted to do more than sit around listening to speeches.
In an effort to generate more participation, the seminar was moved from a theater to CLC's physical education building. It featured 20-foot video screens, free food, raffles and high-energy music, along with a comedian and motivational speaker Duane Brown leading ice-breaking activities for the new pupils.
Brown encouraged the freshmen to become involved in extracurricular activities and become more than an average college student.
"I actually was able to attend one of the sessions and they were really rocking, I guess you can say," Weber said. "It was sort of motivational and inspirational at the same time. It was a really interesting session."
CLC's Welcome Week for the overall student body ended Thursday. With a theme of "Surf to Success," pupils got to follow flamingos to a lawn near the physical education center for interactive games, food and photo opportunities.