Central Carolina sees 20% enrollment jump

Increase due to various factors, including no-cost tuition, new branding, more flexibility

September 22, 2022

Author: Bruce Mills / bruce@theitem.com

Central Carolina Technical College President Kevin Pollock says “it’s an exciting time for the college.” Who would not be excited with a more-than-20% enrollment increase this fall?

As of Sept. 9, CCTC had 3,205 students this semester. No-cost tuition has been a big factor in the jump of more than 550 students compared to one year earlier, but other keys include the school’s new evening college program and increased marketing efforts, he said recently.

Central Carolina first did no-cost tuition in January for all programs of study and saw an enrollment spike that semester for the first time in years, Pollock explained. Summer enrollment was also up from one year ago when some programs featured zero-cost tuition.

No-cost tuition was back for all programs this fall, and student headcount is up about 21.4% from Fall 2021, according to early projections.

Class offerings for two fall mini semesters also begin soon; so a final enrollment total will not be available until October, he added.

The zero-cost tuition initiative is a result of new state COVID-19 education relief money paired with other college funding so that every current and potential student would qualify.

Most every technical college in the state offered no-cost tuition for the fall term, and statewide enrollment is up about 10% compared to last year at this time, according to data.

Another factor helping all the schools is a “recovery from COVID” to some extent, with more people being out and about and coming back to school now, Pollock added.

He also attributed local college increases to a new, internal marketing program that included radio spots, a TV commercial,

billboards, new branding and increased outreach to local businesses and school districts.

The result is basically all academic programs have increased enrollment, including the college’s technical programs of study.

For example, Pollock said, the welding and mechatronics programs are full now and have waiting lists.

“Those students from the technical programs are coming through getting job offers right away,” Pollock said. “To see those starting to fill back up again will be a big thing for the community because those students who graduate stay here locally and work in the local businesses and we are filling those needs from those areas.”

Allied health programs, such as nursing and surgical technology, are at maximum enrollment, he added.

Pollock said everyone at the college, including faculty and student services, played a part in the increased messaging and that it was “a great team effort.”

Another factor in the growth is CCTC’s new evening college program that kicked off this fall.

About 100 students are participating in the night program that started with a series of courses. The goal is to augment the program and grow it, moving forward, he said, giving the example of possibly offering 4 p.m. courses where businesspeople can swap their lunch hour and still be home for dinner at 6:30 p.m.

“So, we are looking at those kinds of options,” Pollock said. “We are really trying to look at what are the needs and what are the wants of our population and deliver those courses when people really want them. Not everybody can take classes between 8 a.m. and 3 or 4 p.m. during the day. With a low unemployment rate, we need to be flexible.”

CCTC fall enrollment totals in recent years

2018: 3,550

2019: 3,361

2020: 2,885

2021: 2,640

2022: 3,205* (projection, as of Sept. 9)

* Reflects 21% increase from Fall 2021. Entire state technical college system up about 10% from last fall.