While overall fall enrollment numbers compared to the same time last year are down by more than 5 percent at public colleges statewide, East Mississippi Community College saw an increase in enrollment this year.

September 17, 2021

While overall fall enrollment numbers compared to the same time last year are down by more than 5 percent at public colleges statewide, East Mississippi Community College saw an increase in enrollment this year.

EMCC’s increase of 1.5 percent in students enrolled is the second highest in the state and the college is among only three Mississippi public colleges to show positive growth. Each of the 12 remaining community colleges in the state saw a decrease in enrollment during the same timeframe, with numbers dropping between 1.3 percent and 13 percent.

That decline is part of a national trend this year. While fall 2021 college enrollment numbers nationwide are not yet available, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, total enrollment for spring enrollment at all U.S. colleges fell a collective 9.5 percent.

“The fact that our numbers are up is not a coincidence,” EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks said. “We have implemented numerous changes across the college to improve our enrollment and retention processes.”

The enrollment numbers for Mississippi’s colleges are compiled by the Mississippi Community College Board and are based on a preliminary headcount taken each year on the 10th day of the fall semester.

“Each college reports their enrollment numbers to MCCB on the same day of the fall term,” EMCC Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness Susan Baird said. “This is the standard number colleges use for benchmarking their enrollment numbers from year to year.”

Audited enrollment numbers won’t be available until next spring. EMCC enrolled 3,532 students this fall, with increases across the major campuses. Enrollment was up by 45 students compared to last year at the Scooba campus and by 44 students on the college’s Golden Triangle campus, Alsobrooks said. The Communiversity enrolled 185 students this fall, which represents a 5 percent increase over last year’s numbers, he added.

The preliminary headcount includes all students taking for-credit classes and does not reflect those students taking noncredit courses of study. Mississippi Delta Community College saw the largest enrollment increase, with 5.8 percent growth. The only other college in the state with positive enrollment was Northeast Mississippi Community College, which had an increase of 1.3 percent.

This is the first fall-to-fall enrollment increase EMCC has experienced since the 2015-16 school year, Baird said.


EMCC District Director of Advising, Retention and Student Success Dr. Nikita L. Ashford-Ashworth, who was hired last March, said everyone in her department has shifted their focus from a transactional model to a proactive model when it comes to student interactions.

“Basically, that means we are reaching out to our students rather than waiting for them to call us,” Ashford-Ashworth said.

EMCC had a strong summer enrollment and one of the strategies was to reach out to those students to see what assistance they needed to continue their studies in the fall term.

“We engaged them all summer long,” Ashford-Ashworth said. “We have reached out to them by phone, by email and by text.”

They also promoted “Walk-in Wednesdays” for students who prefer face-to-face advising.

EMCC’s Enrollment Management department also implemented changes to modernize their communication and recruiting efforts. Among other things, they have implemented Ellucian CRM Recruit, a software system that tracks all interactions with students and displays them on a dashboard for quick reference.

“It allows us to have a visualization of where that student is in the enrollment funnel and what we need to do to get them to enroll in classes,” Information Technology Specialist William Everitt said.

The department is also utilizing software that allows for mass notifications to targeted students via email and texts.

“I’ve used it to reach out to prospective students, enrolled students and students who had previously enrolled but did not reenroll in a subsequent term,” said Everitt, who stressed that the changes are part of a larger group effort. “EMCC has great people here who want to move the needle.”

Traditional recruiting efforts, such as high school visits and campus tours that were on hold last year because of COVID-19, have also resumed and dual enrollment advisors are now serving as recruiters as well.

Not only are EMCC’s enrollment numbers up, but so are general reserve funds, which saw a bump of about $2 million last year, with roughly $500,000 of that allocated to give employees raises, Alsobrooks said.

“We are on track to improve our reserves by $2.5 million to $3 million in fiscal year 2021,” Alsobrooks said. “That is attributed mainly to controlling our expenses and conservative spending.”

Alsobrooks said the expectation this coming year is to have roughly $7 million in total reserves in the general operating fund, which is up from about $800,000 when he was hired in January of 2019.

“We have rethought a lot of contracts and not filled some management and administration positions when they opened up and will continue to watch our spending as we work to get our reserves to where we want them to be,” Alsobrooks said.

For more information about available programs of study at EMCC, visit online at www.eastms.edu or call 662.243.1900 or 662.476.5000.