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JCC Officials: Drop Expected In Enrollment

It’s a mixed bag when it comes to recruiting for Jamestown Community College during the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel DeMarte, JCC president, and Kirk Young, JCC student affairs vice president, said first-year student enrollment is up at this point of the year compared to past years. However, they both expect a downward turn in overall enrollment by the time classes start up in the fall.

“We are seeing a significant jump in first-time students,” DeMarte said. “It’s an encouraging step early in the process.”

DeMarte said it’s too early in the process to talk about specific numbers publicly. He said, overall, the college is trending down in enrollment like every other learning institution in the country because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We anticipate a drop (overall in enrollment). We are doing everything we can to head that off,” DeMarte said.

Young said JCC officials got the message out to potential students to get into the “pipeline” early.

“We want to make sure we can take care of everything that needs to be in place when classes start,” he said. “We always encourage students to apply early because there are steps to take like applying for financial aid.”

Young believes returning JCC students are waiting to see how the coronavirus will play out during the next couple of months. He said, unlike some four-year colleges, JCC doesn’t have an early deadline for registering for classes, which students can do right up to the time school starts in August.

Because of the coronavirus and the mandate against public gatherings, JCC has started to hold virtual tours and open houses, which potential students can view online.

“One of the things we’ve done in the past is we worked to produce a number of high-quality videos. We are really using Youtube, and we’ve been doing that for several years,” Young said. “This was the first time we integrated it all. We’ve been able to show resident halls or the classroom experience. When doing a virtual open house, they can select the right videos to show them what it’s like to be an athlete at JCC or what the resident halls are like or what’s it like in the classroom. Now we are able to mix those together to give a taste of what it’s like to be a student. Working to put those together has been important for us.”

Young said first-time students have a lot of questions they need answered about registering for classes and applying for financial aid. In the past, a student would be able to visit the campus and ask JCC officials their questions. Now, however, the same process is being handled online.

“One new thing is the financial aid office is a virtual workshop for students to reach out to complete financial aid applications,” he said. “Another one is an advising piece. Typically a student would come on campus and meet with an adviser. By using technology we’re still able to have one-on-one meetings, like on Zoom. We can use technology to schedule appointments to get a link to a Zoom meeting and the adviser can show them through the process and register them for classes.”

As far as residential living in dormitories in the fall, DeMarte said two internal groups are planning possible scenarios on what that might be like.

“We will know more in time. We’re planning for the worst case scenario and the best case scenario,” he said.

DeMarte said JCC officials already suspect that social distancing mandates will still be enforced in the fall, so that will lead to a significant reduction in the number of students living in residential halls. He said JCC’s Jamestown campus has the capacity for 340 students.

“How many (students), we don’t know and that is part of the planning,” he said.

DeMarte said another “twist” to possible fall enrollment is athletics. He said JCC officials were just allowed to start recruitment of athletes again, but there is still an unknown if any sports will be played in the fall.

“We are planning for a year with athletics and a year without athletics,” he said. “Those are the scenarios that we need to work through and act on once we have a definitive answer.”

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