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By Paul Bradley  /  
2013 December 9 - 12:00 am

2012: A One-Year Snapshot


2012: A One-Year Snapshot
An Update of Last Year’s Enrollment Numbers

This year’s Fastest-Growing Community College report by Community College Week is taking a different form than those in years past.

For more than a decade, CCWeek has based its fastest-growing on enrollment figures released annually by the Integrated Post Secondary Data System, which is part of the National Center for Education Statistics. We had expected the most recent data file — tracking enrollment for the fall 2012 semester and comparing it to a year earlier — to be released in October or November.


Ups and Downs

2012: A One-Year Snapshot:

Private For-Profit Colleges

But then the government shutdown intervened. The federal government was shut down for 17 days starting on Oct. 1 after Congress failed to appropriate funds for fiscal year 2014. Most routine government functions were curtailed or halted altogether. Some 800,000 federal employees were furloughed.

Among those workers who were affected were those at the U.S. Education Department who compile and produce the annual enrollment report. The data file is now expected to be released in mid-December, too late for the deadline for this edition.

Rather than cancel the fastest-growing report, we at CCWeek decided to compile an alternate report. We’d base it on available data and statistics. We learned that while the release of the large IPEDS data file was delayed, 2012 enrollment data had been inserted on a college-by-college basis into NCES’ College Navigator online tool.

We decided to revisit last year’s report and update it. We’d take the colleges with the fastest-growing enrollments in 2011 and extract their 2012 enrollment figures from the College Navigator. That would give us a one-year snapshot if not an overall trend. Because this is our 25th anniversary year, we decided to look at the Top 25 fastest-growing colleges in each of four size categories. Those are the charts you’ll find as part of this report. Because we limited our research to last year’s top 25 colleges, we did not attempt to compile final rankings. Our goal was to provide a preliminary look at enrollment trends within this group only. We will rank all the colleges based on the final 2012 headcount in a follow-up report.

The numbers, in general, show that community college enrollment is slowing. They show that many of last year’s fastest-growing colleges cited continued their growth a year later. Other colleges experienced significant slowdowns or declines.

Some caveats: some colleges have changed they way they report their numbers. Ivy Tech Community College, for example, now reports enrollment as a statewide system, rather than by campus, as it did in prior years. The same holds true for Georgia Military College. Those changes mean some gaps in our charts.

We’re confident that this alternate report provides a valuable glimpse of enrollment in community colleges. But we will follow up this report with a fuller Fastest-Growing Community Colleges report once the full IPEDS enrollment file becomes available.

Paul Bradley
Community College Week

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