STEUBENVILLE - Eastern Gateway Community College's record fall enrollment leads all public university main and regional campuses, and community colleges, according to the Ohio Board of Regents fall 2013 preliminary headcount enrollment report.
Of the 61 institutions reporting figures, Eastern Gateway's 15 percent increase over 2012 figures stands out.
It is the only double-digit percentage increase among all institutions. The college's reported headcount is 2,885. Since the data was reported to the OBR on Sept. 20, Eastern Gateway's headcount reached 2,904, according to Patty Sturch, dean of enrollment management.
Only half of the 14 university main campuses reported any increase.
Five of 24 regional campuses showed student growth, but the overall report shows the count down by 4 percent. The 23 community colleges in the state had an enrollment dip of 4.74 percent with only seven reporting any increase.
Eastern Gateway attributes its growth to the recent expansion of its service district to include three new counties and the steady enrollment on the Jefferson County Campus. Enrollment in the Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull County service district is now 1,345, a 48 percent increase from fall 2012.
Another big factor in the strong enrollment report is the retention of students.
"This is a major goal at the college. Student success means passing courses, continuing from one semester to the next and ultimately reaching their higher education goals," said Dorothy Collins, dean of TRiO programs, academic advising and student support.
"Eastern Gateway's fall-to-fall retention rate stands at 49 percent for all students with the exception of high school students taking college courses. This compares to 43 percent in fall 2013. The retention rate for students returning to the college from spring 2013 to this fall rose to 56 percent for the same group of students. This also compares to 43 percent in spring to fall 2012," cited Collins.
"I am excited about the new student retention efforts we will implement for the coming spring semester for our students so we can improve retention further," said Collins. "We are an open admissions institution and it is very important for us to be able to serve all those students we accept, offering them resources and support so that they can reach their educational endeavors."
The college's student population is becoming more diverse, she said.
"We have a greater variety of needs to address. Our tutoring and disability services areas are seeing more students seeking help with the facets of learning how to study in college and managing their time, and also assistance with disability accommodations. Many students have been out of school for quite some time and need a refresher or reminder on how to balance college and all the other activities and events they have," noted Collins.
Collins said Eastern Gateway offers "a great opportunity for individuals who want to pursue higher education."
"Students have the opportunity to be successful at Eastern Gateway by earning an associate's degree or certificate, transferring to a four-year institution, or just taking a course or two to transfer to another institution, We offer one of the lowest tuition rates in Ohio which makes our college affordable and students do not have to leave with an enormous debt. Additionally, we have expanded into Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties at the right time, adding to the college's main campus in Steubenville," stated Collins.