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What’s the Secret Sauce in State Center’s Enrollment Boom?



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Enrollments are up across State Center Community College campuses. (Shutterstock)
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State Center Community College District appears to be on track to set a new high-water mark for student enrollments, erasing the losses that occurred after the pandemic.

The district, which includes colleges in Fresno and Madera counties, is about 3% under the record set in the 2019-2020 school year, just as the pandemic was arriving and forced classes to move online.

The “secret sauce” to the enrollment boom appears to be providing students with more campus and course options (including CTE), free bus service, and making it easier to sign up and obtain financial aid via “extreme registration” events.

The biggest gain has been in the summer session, which was nearly 110% higher than three years earlier and was 107% of the enrollment target set by the district, according to data provided this week to GV Wire.

Fall and spring semester enrollments also have been climbing since they bottomed out in the 2020-21 school year. Last fall’s enrollment was nearly 105% of the target enrollment, and this spring’s enrollment is already at 99.8% of the target.

And there’s a chance that this school year’s enrollments could set a new record because spring enrollments have not closed yet, said Robin Torres, director of enrollment management.

This is Fresno City College’s new satellite campus in southwest Fresno. (Fresno City College)

More Enrollments This Spring

Spring enrollments for Madera Community Colleges and the Oakhurst campus are lower than projected but should grow once Madera Unified’s dual enrollment classes for high schoolers begin, Torres said.

Also, enrollments will rise when students sign up for the second set of 9-week courses later in the semester, she said.

Fresno City College’s enrollments also are up, even as the college expanded its footprint by opening a new campus in southwest Fresno and the First Responders campus in south Fresno.

The West Fresno campus is scheduling its “official” ribbon-cutting ceremony later this month to mark the opening of the Advanced Technology Center, which opened to its first classes on Monday. The Academic Building opened for classes last August while construction continued on the Advanced Technology Center,

Torres credits “enrollment recovery efforts” with boosting enrollments across the district. Those efforts include additional extreme registration events, where students can get registration, financial aid, and counseling assistance at the same time; increased marketing efforts that include social media, bus ads, and billboards; and more outreach to students through texting, emails, and phone calls.

The enrollment turnaround is welcome news to community college officials. A continued decline in enrollments could have resulted in decreased state financial support that hinges on enrollments.

Clovis College Enrollments Climbing

Clovis Community College is celebrating a 19% boost so far in spring enrollments, bolstered by three new career technical education programs — digital arts, commercial music, and plant science — and bus service on City of Fresno FAX Route 3 to the campus. Students with current student ID cards ride any FAX bus for free.

As of last week, the Clovis headcount was 8,260, compared to 6,947 last year, the college reported.

Clovis Community College has been recognized for the past six years as one of the top transfer schools in California. Spokeswoman Stephanie Babb says the curriculum mix of online and in-person classes provides more options for students who work full-time or need to stay home with children.

Reedley’s Enrollments ‘Highest in at least a Decade’

Reedley College’s annual enrollments have rebounded by 30% since the pandemic, with annual enrollments topping 18,000 students — the highest in at least a decade, spokesman George Takata said Tuesday.

On Sunday the college exceeded its spring semester enrollment target, and that’s before high schoolers’ dual enrollment classes are factored in, he said.

The next step is retaining the registered students, and so far the district is 12% higher on that score than it was a year ago, Takata said.

State Center Community College data as of Jan. 8, 2024

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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