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‘A short-term blip’

Iowa Central fall enrollment down 8.7%

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
An Iowa Central student walks across the quiet campus on Tuesday afternoon. With full-time enrollment down 8.7% and more than 130 fewer students living in campus housing this fall, the campus was quiet by 4 p.m.

Nearly a month into the fall semester, Iowa Central Community College has seen a significant decrease in enrollment, college President Dan Kinney said.

“We’re living in uncertain times right now,” he said, attributing the decrease in enrollment to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kinney said he expected that the college would see an enrollment decrease after the second half of the spring 2020 semester had to be completed through virtual online classes.

“Through the summer and doing orientations, I did half a dozen or more sessions with parents and there were a lot of concerns,” he said. “We saw a lot of nervousness. Not only in the students coming back to school, but I think parents, too.”

Kinney said he’s talked to several students who decided to take a “gap year” or a “gap semester” because they didn’t feel comfortable being on campus and didn’t want to take online classes.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Iowa Central freshman Joy Keolanui-Herman, of Pocahontas, plays a game of pool with recent Iowa Central grad Jenna Neumanu, of Storm Lake, in the Triton Zone on Tuesday afternoon. The college’s full-time enrollment dropped by 8.7% this fall, college president Dan Kinney said.

“Overall, I don’t like being down in enrollment, but I also understand,” Kinney said. “As I talk to my colleagues across the state, everybody is seeing the same.”

At Iowa Central, this fall, there are 4,561 students enrolled in 46,285 credit hours, which includes a decrease of more than 5,000 credit hours.

The majority of the decrease in enrollment and credit hours, Kinney said, comes from fewer high school students taking concurrent enrollment classes for college credit.

“We knew some of that would be happening with school districts having to do new return to learn plans,” he said. “So we knew some of this decrease was going to come.”

Part of the enrollment and credit hour decrease also comes from the partnership Iowa Central has with the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, which allows inmates to take some Iowa Central classes online or in person with instructors at the prison, through the Second Chance Pell Grant program. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDCF had to suspend the Iowa Central classes, Kinney said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Iowa Central sophomore KC Meiners, of Carroll, reads the weather forecast on the college’s 88.1 FM radio station during his hour-long radio show on Tuesday afternoon.

“We hope to see that change,” he said. “Right now we’re working with corrections and hopefully in October we can get back up and going.”

Kinney said he believes this setback on enrollment is just a temporary effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the college will continue to grow its enrollment in future semesters.

“I think this is a short-term blip, fortunately,” he said. “Hopefully next fall will look a lot different in regards to how we can set up and how we can do business as an institution. I know there are a lot of kids out there that just want to get back to normalcy, want that normal college experience.”

Iowa Central Community College fall enrollment

• Number of students: 4,561

• Number of credit hours: 46,285

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Tables in the Academic Resource Center on Iowa Central’s campus sit empty on Tuesday afternoon. College President Dan Kinney reported that full-time enrollment decreased by 8.7% this fall.

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