By Frank Stanko
Dr. Richman announces highest spring semester enrollment on record since 1983 with 2,951 students
According to its latest census, spring semester enrollment at North Dakota State College of Science is 2,951 students. NDSCS reports this as not only a 7 percent increase over the spring of 2015, but the highest spring semester enrollment on record since 1983.
Along with the increase in number of students enrolled at NDSCS on the whole, so are the number of credits they’re taking, said President John Richman. The distinction is important because Richman said there have been increases at the Fargo campus, in NDSCS’ early entry offerings (students receiving college credit while in high school) and in the hybrid students (those who receive their education in multiple ways or from multiple locations, like on campus and online), there have been slight decreases in enrollment both online and at the Wahpeton campus. Nevertheless, Richman expressed excitement about the increased enrollment in Wahpeton.
“It’s a result that proves that the plan we have been working on for several years is working,” he said. “North Dakota, in this region, has been in a decline in the number of high school graduates that is being generated, but at the same time, our enrollment continues to grow.”
Richman said NDSCS has countered the declining high school graduation number by improving its recruitment processes, along with improving marketing the campus and the viable careers that exist in North Dakota.
“The academic programs have become more accessible in different delivery locations and different delivery methods, from a hybrid student to an online student to a Fargo student to an Oakes, North Dakota student. We’ve just diversified the way that we teach,” he said.
Strategic plans that took shape in 2012 and have focused on student success have also contributed to the enrollment growth, Richman added.
“All the pieces have worked very collaboratively together and we’re seeing the results,” he said. “We’ve diversified delivery, we’ve improved the marketing, the recruitment pieces, very strategically.”
New initiatives have been implemented to promote positive enrollment growth at the Wahpeton campus, Richman said. This includes adding some new positions. As well, the job descriptions between department chairs and academic chairs have been adjusted and reprioritized to focus more on career awareness, student recruitment and student advising at the entry level.
Along with that, NDSCS is focusing on business and industry support. When Richman spoke to the Daily News, it was the afternoon of a career fair at the campus’ Blikre Activity Center.
“We need business and industry to work with us sooner in the educational process,” he said. “We need business and industry helping us in the career awareness piece. We need business and industry to help us recruit students, offer internship co-op experiences, sponsor students. All of that at the beginning of the educational process or during the educational process will make a more successful student.”
The new initiatives, Richman said, are about developing greater and more partnerships and improving the career awareness and the recruitment of students.
Richman, who said he tries engaging students as often as he can, saw three of them leaving the career fair as he was walking in.
“And my question to each one of the three was, ‘Did you get a job?’ And they said, ‘I already had a job ... I already had a job ... I already had a job.’”
That proves to Richman, he said, that NDSCS’ business partnership is working.
“I don’t know what programs they’re in,” he continued. “I don’t know what jobs they were, but that, to me, is proof that business is listening. They need to get into the process of identifying and educating students in the front end of the educational process, not the back end.”
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