Enrollment drops at the College of DuPage
Enrollment at the College of DuPage has declined for a second straight year.
School officials say the most recent drop was caused by multiple factors, including more competition from four-year institutions and negative media attention.
The number of full- and part-time students enrolled this fall at the Glen Ellyn school totals 26,901, a decrease of 6.2 percent compared to last year.
Earl Dowling, COD's vice president of student affairs, said there were several reasons for the enrollment drop. He cited declining high school populations, increased competition, out-of-state recruiting and adverse publicity.
One reason why COD is getting fewer applicants is because fewer students attend area high schools.
"We've been tracking this for some time, so it really wasn't a surprise," Dowling said. "We just felt the effect this year."
COD also is facing more aggressive competition from four-year institutions.
Dowling said there are 119 Chicago area residents who are employed full-time to recruit for 82 colleges and universities. They're working to recruit the same students COD is hoping to attract.
"It's aggressive," Dowling said. "And it's something that we are facing and will probably continue to face."
Another problem COD has had to deal with is adverse publicity.
"I can't quantify it," Dowling said. "But there's a part of me that says having the word 'probation' associated with the college did not help our enrollment progress."
There was a great deal of media attention last year when it was revealed there were state and federal investigations into the school's spending and administrative practices.
Then in December, the Higher Learning Commission placed the college on two years' probation for failing to act with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel and auxiliary functions.
While COD continues to be accredited and student credits are unaffected, the probation means the school must address the commission's concerns. If it doesn't, it will lose its accreditation -- and that could have a devastating impact on students by affecting financial aid programs and the ability to transfer credits.
COD officials are working to ensure the school meets all the commission's standards.
They also are planning to use new technology and take other steps to increase student enrollment numbers next year.
The school, for example, is going to do a more aggressive marketing campaign, including advertising on buses and advertising on more social media platforms.