PBSC summer enrollment is up 4.5 percent
Palm Beach State College’s summer enrollment is up 4.5 percent, and college leaders attribute much of the growth to strategic recruitment initiatives and scholarships designed to encourage students to finish their education on schedule or sooner.
With an unduplicated headcount of 21,081 as of June 21, the summer enrollment is on pace to become the highest for the summer in the College’s history, said Dr. Peter Barbatis, vice president of student services and enrollment management. The Summer B session started Tuesday, and the add/drop period ends today. Annually, the College serves about 48,000 students.
The summer enrollment increase is significant, given that historically, enrollment has fluctuated with the economy; in a downward economy enrollment often rises and then it typically declines as economic and workforce conditions improve.
However, Palm Beach State College’s overall enrollment has remained largely flat over the last few years. The summer enrollment for the same day in 2011 was 20,964. That was two years after the Great Recession that began in December 2007 and, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, officially ended in June 2009.
“When the economy is good less people go to college, at least for us. They’re not going back to retool or enter a new career. A lot of colleges are down,’’ said Barbatis.
However, a major part of the increase is due to strategies the College has used to spur summer enrollment and encourage students to complete their education on schedule or faster.
For example, the College awarded 25 Finish4Free scholarships for dual enrollment students, and many of them enrolled this summer. These scholarships allow graduating high school senior dual enrollment students who complete 30 college credits in high school with a 3.0 GPA to finish their A.A. degree for free at Palm Beach State.
Eighty-five students who were within 75 percent of completion of their program of study received summer scholarships. The College also awarded 47 PBSC Foundation scholarships to Associate in Science in Nursing degree students who are scheduled to complete their degree this December.
PBSC targeted scholarships to 447 students not eligible for the federal Pell grant to encourage them to enroll in the summer. “These are students close to graduating,” Barbatis said. “They are taking class now with hopes to graduate this summer.”
Barbatis said the College is strategically exploring obstacles to completion. “We’re trying to remove all barriers to enrollment, if possible. One is offering classes that are needed for them to finish,’’ Barbatis said. Another, he said, is often financial challenges. “Sometimes, I don’t think students realize how close they are to graduating. It’s just better communication with our students.”