Thursday, February 22, 2018




East Texas colleges report continued enrollment growth for spring

Megan Hix

By Megan Hix
Feb. 13, 2018 at 11:25 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2018 at 10:33 a.m.

Above: Students walk across the LeTourneau University campus in Longview. LeTourneau  enrollment increased by a little more than 8 percent this semester. Below:  LeTourneau aviation students Andrew Moore and David Herrington study Friday in the Allen Family Student Center.

Enrollment numbers continued to rise this spring at many East Texas colleges, including a record at one university.

LeTourneau University, East Texas Baptist University and the University of Texas at Tyler and its Longview University Center all saw increases in spring head counts compared with a year ago.

In contrast, Panola College in Carthage, Northeast Texas Community College and Jarvis Christian College each reported a smaller student body.

Enrollment figures from Kilgore College are not finalized, as the school said it expects additional students to enroll in an eight-week semester of online classes that begins March 19.

Wiley College in Marshall and the Longview University Center saw the largest growth this semester.

Wiley's spring enrollment increased from 1,162 in spring 2017 to 1,372 this semester — a growth of about 18 percent.

Enrollment at the Longview University Center was up about 13 percent at 253 students this semester compared with 224 a year earlier.

LeTourneau University in Longview and East Texas Baptist University in Marshall each saw enrollment gains of a little more than 8 percent this semester.

At ETBU, spring enrollment is 1,371 students compared with 1,263 a year ago.

ETBU also reported increases in dual-credit and adult education enrollment. In the past two years, the school's dual-credit numbers have jumped — to 118 this semester from 14 in 2016.

Communications coordinator Kristin Williams said the university has encouraged a relationship with high schools as they work with them closely for student teaching, volunteer events, open houses and more.

"We've initiated a few programs at the high schools at Marshall and Elysian Fields ISDs," Williams said. "(The growth) could be because of their initiation and progression."

The university also has seen increased interest in its adult education programs, which are designed for nontraditional students. Enrollment almost tripled in the past year, from 38 students this semester compared with 13 in 2017.

At LeTourneau, enrollment in dual-credit programs also is growing, with numbers more than tripling in the past three years to 786 students this spring.

"LeTourneau is continuing partnerships with East Texas students and families to expand the educational growth of our community through our dual-credit program," Carl Arnold, the university's vice president for enrollment services, said in a statement. "We are excited to see these students succeed as they continue into higher education."

LeTourneau's overall student count also grew to 2,944 this semester compared with 2,720 in spring 2017.

UT Tyler reported a record 9,598 students enrolled this spring, up from 7,900 in 2015 and a previous record of 9,208 a year ago.

"We were pleased to be able to retain so many students from our record fall enrollment" of 10,527 students, Lucas Roebuck, chief communications officer for UT Tyler, said in a statement. "Like nearly all universities, we see enrollment melt from fall to spring. When you factor out the fall graduates, we had a net gain of about 500 students."

Despite Panola College's drop from 2,464 students in spring 2017 to 2,382 students this semester, the institution continued to see increased interest in its dual-credit and early admissions programs. Since 2016, spring enrollment in the programs has increased almost 16 percent, from 564 students to 653 enrolled this semester.

Jeremy Dorman, director of admissions for Panola College, said the study areas facing the biggest enrollment declines this year were in energy and petroleum-related fields. He said he expected those numbers to bounce back as oil and gas industries in this area pick back up.

Northeast Texas Community College's student enrollment decreased from 2,850 students a year ago to 2,782 this semester.

"This comes largely from decreases in certain workforce programs, like welding, that are most impacted by changing economic conditions," NTCC President Ron Clinton said in a statement. "As the unemployment rate improves, students pursuing workforce certificates and degrees tend to go back to work. This is a good problem for us to have, as our ultimate goal is for students to achieve gainful employment."

Clinton said that despite the downturn, the college's transfer and dual-credit enrollments "continue to trend upward."

Jarvis Christian College’s enrollment went from 910 to 782 this year, with Adult Education enrollment not counted toward the 2018 total.

Numbers for the Marshall campus of Texas State Technical College have not been certified.

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