Enrollment bounces back

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Enrollment at SAC was up 10% in fall 2021. Emily Hernandez / el Don

After losing one in ten full time students during the pandemic, officials say the district has recouped its losses through non-credit and high school programs. According to statewide enrollment data, Santa Ana College had the largest enrollment gains across the top 15 California Community Colleges by size over a three year period. 

The district has seen the addition of the equivalent of about 2,000 full time students. The next closest community college districts, San Diego and North Orange, each increased by just 3%.

One area that has seen major growth is non-credit classes through the Centennial Education Center. Non-credit enrollment accounted for about 20% of gains, with enrollment in high school diploma classes nearly double what it was in fall 2020. 

James Kennedy, Vice President of Continuing Education, attributes much of their success with their ability to quickly transition to virtual options at the start of the pandemic. 

“Before the pandemic we only had a very small online program, today all of our programs have robust online offerings,” said Kennedy. “In response to the pandemic we immediately launched a public service marketing campaign to promote our online learning options, redesigned our website and redesigned our registration process.”

Another program helping to generate numbers is the dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to complete college classes in addition to their regular classes. Sections offered are expected to increase to 104 for fall 2022, up from 64 in fall of 2021. 

About 25% of funding the district receives comes from enrollment. This funding is based on the number of full time enrolled students. A single FTES is equal to one student attending three hours of class five days per week, a total of 525 hours per academic year. 

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Different types of enrollment generate different amounts of funding, ranging between about $3,380 and $5,620.

The enrollment update was presented during the Feb. 14 Board of Trustees meeting where Vice Chancellor of Educational Services, Enrique Perez, gave information from a CCC report showing the district’s growth from fall 2020 to fall 2021.

 “The vast majority (of other community colleges) are just having a very difficult time with working through the pandemic and the economy, that’s great for us. With a supportive board and great faculty and staff working together, we took the hit in fall of 2020 just like all the other districts, and are recovering as we continue to move forward.”

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