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Despite pandemic, enrollment holds steady at Northeast

Despite pandemic, enrollment holds steady at Northeast

NORFOLK, Neb. – The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the delivery methods of education at Northeast Community College this fall. The 2020-21 academic year began a week earlier than scheduled on August 17 with a majority of instruction moving from traditional face-to-face classes to online and synchronous online (virtual) classes, as well as reduced numbers of students and social distancing protocols in limited face-to-face classes.

Vice President of Student Services Amanda Nipp said the pandemic has altered plans for college students in general, but it hasn’t impacted enrollment at Northeast as some nationwide forecasts projected for higher education institutions this fall.

“As we begin the new academic year, unduplicated enrollment is holding steady compared to this same time in 2019,” Nipp said. “Northeast’s 10th day Fall 2020 enrollment compared to the 10th day of Fall 2019 was nearly the same at 4,567 students versus 4,576 - the difference being less than 10 students this year or minus 0.2%. This is very encouraging because last fall was the third largest enrollment on record at Northeast Community College.”

The College operates a main campus in Norfolk, extended campuses in O’Neill, South Sioux City, and West Point, and regional offices in Ainsworth and Hartington. 

Northeast’s Institutional Research Office reports the number of first-time freshmen students at the College saw a slight dip of 7% in enrollment, while the number of early college (high school students) increased 16% compared to last year.

Nipp said Northeast is looking to see continued growth in student numbers as the semester unfolds.

“We still have additional early college and non-degree seeking students yet to register, and with some additional courses starting during the second eight-weeks of classes, we anticipate our enrollment numbers will continue to climb.”

“We’re down slightly, but we’re still in a fantastic place,” said Northeast President Leah Barrett. “There are opportunities for continued enrollment increases as the year progresses, others being an intersession between the fall and spring semesters and our robust summer program.”

The intersession is designed as a short-term solution that will offer students the option to enroll in a variety of diverse courses to keep them on track to graduate in two-years. The intersession will run from November 30-January 15, with a break for the holidays in late December and early January. Registration will begin in October.

The health and safety of students and employees have been top priorities as plans were developed to begin the fall semester. Barrett credits faculty and staff who worked extremely hard over the summer to ensure that class schedules were in place regardless of their delivery method. Additionally, protocols have been instituted that allow students to learn and employees to work in safe environments at all locations. This includes a face mask requirement in all buildings.

Although it has been an unprecedented year, Barrett remains optimistic. 

“All of our employees have stepped up and have given so much extra over these past several months to prepare for the fall semester. And for that I am forever grateful. Everyone here is so focused on making sure that students are still on their paths to graduate. I feel the 10th day enrollment numbers are evident of that,” Barrett said. “I am confident our approach to reopening and beginning the semester is bringing some normalcy back into the lives of our students.”