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Local BCC headcount drops while online enrollments climb
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Although enrollment at Barton Community College’s Great Bend campus declined by about 6 percent, the college saw an overall 6 percent enrollment increase in the summer and fall of 2011, compared to the same time in 2010, college officials announced.

The continuing trend of enrollment growth is attributed primarily to students taking online courses. Barton President Dr. Carl Dr. Heilman said he predicts online enrollments could constitute more than 40 percent of the total enrollment in the next five to 10 years.

"Barton will continue to harness the online engine," he stated in a news release.

Meanwhile, strategies are in place to reverse the decline in enrollment at the Great Bend campus before it becomes a trend, Heilman added. These include emphasizing financial support for fine arts programming, which includes the Shafer Art Gallery; allied health-care programming, which includes Barton’s nursing program; and full athletic team roster membership for sports teams.

Tana Cooper, who took the reins of Director of Admissions a few months ago, said her office plans to garner the attention of more area seniors.

"We’re going to do a couple things to boost enrollments," she said. "First, we’ll narrow down our recruitment area to focus on students who live within a two-hour radius of Great Bend, instead of trying to focus on the whole state of Kansas. We have already put more emphasis on using social media and other creative ways of reaching potential students.

"We will also have a senior day on Feb. 25," she added. "That hasn’t been done here on campus for several years."

Heilman said the early indicators look promising for the 2011 spring semester, showing a potential increase of more than 10 percent.

BCC students enrolled in more than 65,000 credit hours in the spring and fall of 2011, according to college figures.

Bartonline saw the greatest increase with 18 percent, while Barton’s Fort Riley and Junction City campuses were up 8 percent. EduKan, an online education partnership with other area community colleges, showed a 7 percent increase.

That boost in credit hours also translates to an unduplicated headcount of 10,331 students for the fall and summer of 2011 — a 6.5 percent increase.

Heilman offered several reasons he believes contribute toward the consistent increases in enrollment, including the availability of online courses and learning opportunities and the institution’s focus on industry responsiveness and training, military contract training, affordability, accessibility, quality, agreements with four-year universities and partnerships with industry and government entities.