Traditional full-time enrollment up at PDCCC

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Traditional full-time enrollment at Paul D. Camp Community College has grown slightly over the past two years, reversing a downward trend that has persisted since at least 2014.

According to Damay Bullock, PDCCC’s institutional research and assessment coordinator, a total of 489 traditional full-time students have enrolled for the Fall 2018 semester as of the week of Sept. 21. This is a 3.6 percent increase over the 472 reported in Fall 2017. Prior to 2017, the college had seen a slight but consistent decline in traditional full-time enrollments, with 531 reported for Fall 2014, 518 for Fall 2015 and 456 for Fall 2016.

The increases in traditional FTEs in 2017 and 2018 correlate with the college’s debut of its first-ever National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Region X baseball and softball programs. In 2017, Head Baseball Coach and Athletic Director David Mitchell, along with the college’s assistant coaches, recruited 22 students to become the inaugural Paul D. Camp Hurricanes. Earlier this year, Head Softball Coach Carrie Hoeft and the assistant coaches recruited 14 to become the inaugural Lady Hurricanes. The 2018 Hurricanes baseball roster currently stands at 50 players.

“We are growing our traditional students, which is due in large part to athletics,” Bullock said.

The Hurricanes appear to agree with Bullock’s assessment. Several cited PDCCC’s new athletic programs and facilities as their primary motivation to enroll.

Tyler Dodson, a second-year environmental science major and Hurricane at PDCCC, said Coach Mitchell recruited him while he was seeking to transfer from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“I was looking at other schools, but in order to transfer and play right away, you have to go to a junior college,” Dodson said. “PDCCC gave me that opportunity so I did not have to sit out a year.”

One of the incentives Mitchell had mentioned, Dodson said, was the Franklin campus’s newly renovated baseball field and weight room. Dodson added that PDCCC’s location near his home town of Courtland and its affordability were also factors in his decision.

“I was paying upwards of $50,000 to go to Chatham,” he said.

Cam Ochsenfeld of Hampton, another transfer student and Hurricane, also cited Mitchell’s recruiting efforts as his main reason for coming to PDCCC. Ochsenfeld is a general studies major who formerly attended Old Dominion University.

“I’ve known Coach Mitchell for a couple years now,” Ochsenfeld said. “I knew that once he got some really good players that the program was going to take off.”

He added, “Everything that I heard going in was everyone at this school cares about you and they want you to succeed … since being here, they weren’t wrong. All the teachers, everyone in the building, even the community, they’re rooting for you.”

Morgan Owens, a first-year Lady Hurricane from Moyock, North Carolina, said she chose to attend Paul D. Camp after being recruited by Hoeft. Owens said that in addition to the college’s new softball team, another reason she chose PDCCC was its location in a small town with not a lot of distractions from schoolwork.

Casie Wright of Gasburg, a Lady Hurricane and transfer student currently in her second year of college, said she chose PDCCC after being recruited by Assistant Coach Shawn Wade, who had previously been her travel ball coach. She said the Lady Hurricanes have become “more like a family” than a softball team to her, and that, in addition to the school’s athletics program, she also liked that PDCCC was only about an hour away from home, compared to her previous school, which was six hours away.

When asked if the baseball and softball teams were also drawing interest from non-athlete students, Mitchell said, “Neither team has yet to play a true home game on campus. This spring 2019 will be the first time we can truly track attendance [at games.] Fall games are scrimmages so it’s hard to get a true estimate on what the attendance will be in the spring.”

Bullock mentioned that while the college, on paper, appears to have a slight decrease in total full-time enrollments compared to Fall 2017, this is mainly due to a drop in dual enrollment students. Dual enrollment students are high school students taking college credits while still attending their respective high schools.

Dual enrollment at PDCCC has been on the decline since Fall 2017. This semester, there are a total of 222 DE students, down 12.9 percent from Fall 2017’s 255 DE students.

The Fall 2017 total was itself a decrease of approximately 15.5 percent from the 302 DEs reported for Fall 2016. However, even with the decline in dual enrollment, the college still has far more DE students enrolled than the 144 reported in Fall 2014.

“Before Dr. [Dan] Lufkin became president, the growth that we experienced was due to DE,” Bullock said. “Our DE FTE grew 110 percent from Fall 2014 to Fall 2016, so that buoyed our overall FTE.”