JCJC enrollment continues to grow despite trends
Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Submitted: 2016-02-08 15:34:46
ELLISVILLE – Nationwide and statewide, the enrollment figures at community colleges are on the decline except for a few, like Jones County Junior College. Both fall and spring enrollment numbers show increases of students attending classes. The Jones 2016 spring enrollment figures show a four-percent increase over spring 2015. VP of Marketing and Recruiting, Finee’ Ruffin has a few ideas why Jones has been the exception to the rule, but she is not willing to reveal all of her strategies.
“We are going against the grain. We are not doing ‘business as usual.’ In order to get different results, you have to do things differently and we are really focusing on our students and giving them every opportunity to succeed,” said Ruffin.
It will be hard to keep up with the “Joneses” if President, Dr. Jesse Smith has his way. He’s proud of every success the college is able to earn because it also means students are succeeding.
Offering multiple-entry points throughout the semester, with short term and fast track class options are some methods Jones students have to allow them more opportunities to be successful and to make college more accessible whenever they are ready.
“Despite the declining enrollment predictions in national statistics, we are beating those expectations, and I am very pleased.” said Dr. Smith. “It means we’re doing something right.”
Not only is the focus on recruiting, both administrators explained the focus is also on retaining students. Retention is one of the contributing factors for the upward trend in enrollment.
“We’re doing a better job of getting our ‘story’ out to the communities we serve in our eight-county district and we’re improving accessibility to higher education through our four, County Centers in Bay Springs, Leakesville, Quitman and Waynesboro,” said Ruffin. “I think in a competitive job market, more people are realizing they need more training and a college degree to improve their economic future.”
A unique partnership with county supervisors has allowed students in Greene and Jasper County’s to take classes at JCJC at little or no cost. The Tuition Assistance Guarantee Program enables its residents taking college courses at their local Center facilitated by JCJC or at the Ellisville campus. This is another pathway for the residents of those counties to attend JCJC while county funds are available. Eligibility requirements for prospective students vary by county. “Even with county assistance or scholarships, Jones still offers a quality education at an affordable price. Last year we offered summer courses at a reduced tuition cost because we know money is another big factor in making a college education accessible. However, even without a discounted tuition, I believe more people are realizing the value of a higher education and they are investing in themselves, their county and their state with a college degree, and improved skills,” said Dr. Smith. “I hope more people will focus on their future and realize the importance of a college degree from Jones.”