Stable job market steals students from Chemeketa
With unemployment at an all-time low in Oregon, more students are choosing work over school. If this trend continues, students may have fewer class options to pick from in the future.
Since 2010, enrollment at Chemeketa has been on the decline. Between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017, the number of full time students dropped 4.64 percent. As the economy continues to grow, some potential students are finding employment opportunities as a more desirable option.
“The declines are due to fewer non-traditional aged college students,” said Greg Harris, Public Information Officer and Marketing Director at Chemeketa. “We are actually doing very well with recruiting students right out of high school. What has happened is that older students are fully employed and comfortable with their career prospects, so they are less motivated to invest the money, time, and energy college requires.”
Unfortunately, when fewer people register, the school is forced cut some courses. “We eliminate classes if they aren’t filling to a minimum threshold,” Harris said. “Lower enrollment could lead to scheduling issues for students if there are fewer class options.”
While students may see a small reduction in class options, Harris believes there will not be a significant change. “There are no programs in jeopardy this year. In spite of declining enrollment, we are financially stable for now because of prudent management and a generous allocation of funding from the state.”
Although tuition accounts for nearly a quarter of the college’s funding, low enrollment does not automatically trigger tuition increases. According to Harris, only 22.6 percent of Chemeketa’s funding comes from tuition. The remainder comes from state allocation, local property taxes, and savings from the prior year.
When asked if lower enrollment is connected to tuition rises, Harris said, “Connected, yes, but not the only driver. Other issues are rising costs like employee compensation, healthcare benefits, and energy costs.”