Barton Community College has continued to defy shrinking enrollment trends experienced by other Kansas community colleges, and by no small margin. Barton grew by more than 20 percent since 2010.
All Kansas community colleges other than Barton showed decreases in enrollment from 2010-2015, ranging from -2.2 percent to -33.6 percent, according to a document released by the Kansas Board of Regents. The document also showed that Barton is the second largest community college in the state based on headcount, which is the total number of students served.
Barton grew from 13,519 to 16,275 students in the five-year span, though that number is conservative as Barton has enrollment cycles mid-semester that are not accounted for in the KBOR document. The number of students served as recorded by Barton in the 2014-15 academic year was 17,203.
Growth occurred both at the Barton County campus and via BARTonline, the college’s online learning platform.
College administrators have been watching the enrollment growth closely to ensure they identify any means by which the trend can be supported.
“Reasons for growth range from the vision and governance of the board of trustees; to the support from tax payers, business leaders and general public; to the commitment and professional efforts of college faculty and staff,” Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said. “With this in mind, there have been three primary points of achievement that have supported student enrollment: Accessibility, affordability and quality. Accessibility not only includes the diverse settings and locations in which learning opportunities are provided, but also the attention given to expanding online course availability. Maintaining costs for the student is crucial and Barton’s success was best reported this past year in a TransUnion Consumer Wallet Study that revealed that Barton was the 18th least expensive community college in the United States. As for quality, I believe it is a significant factor in student decision-making and that college growth, is in part, a reflection of Barton’s quality.”
Dr. Heilman said the plan to support further growth is simple; to keep doing what has worked so far.
“Common to all college attributes impacting growth is that faculty members have been remarkably responsive to student, industry and community needs,” he said. “In paying close attention to our constituents, faculty have been outstanding in creating new learning programs, integrating technology and utilization of resources.”