Northwest College in Powell, facing declining enrollment for the last several years, has launched several efforts to build up the number of students attending the two-year school.
As of the fall of 2018, the number of full-time students attending the college in Powell stood at 807, compared to 948 in the fall of 2017.
College President Stefani Hicswa attributed the decline to the improving economy.
“Community college enrollment is directly tied to unemployment,” Hicswa said. “As people go to work, they don’t go to college. This is the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, so they’re not choosing to attend college at this point.”
The college also faces competition from for-profit schools that can spend more on marketing, Hicswa said.
Northwest is changing some of its marketing approaches, such as relying more on social media, to reach students with its message, said Carey Williams, the college’s new director of Communication and Marketing.
Williams said efforts are focusing to spread the word about the college’s location, affordability, the quality of its programs and the college experience it offers.
“Those four things, Northwest College excels at,” she said.
In addition, the college is sending recruiters to meet with potential students, said Dee Havig, Northwest’s interim vice president for Student Services.
“Marketing tells us that social media is what students are wanting, but we’re also hearing they like that face-to-face and making that connection to someone with the school,” he said.
Hicswa said the college is also looking at new degree programs, partnerships with regional colleges and universities and the construction of a new student center to attract more students.