The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

New deadlines, meningitis law lower TCC enrollment

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

For the first time in years, TCC is serving fewer students right now than it did this time last year.

As of the spring 2012 census date (Feb. 1), TCC had 4.3 percent fewer students than it did at the spring 2011 census date. NE (-11.7 percent), NW (-4.4 percent), South (-7.5 percent) and SE (-7 percent) campuses all saw losses in step with the district. TR Campus was the only one whose population increased, and it did so by 36.6 percent.

TR’s percentage increase only represents an increase of 1,956 students, however. The percentage is large because TR had less than half the population of the next smallest campus while the other four were more closely packed.

Associate vice chancellor of enrollment services David Ximenez pointed to the new deadline for enrollment as a major reason why enrollment was down. This year’s deadline was earlier.

“Last year, spring 2011, registration was open all the way up to the first day of the term,” Ximenez said. “Students had one less week to get into classes this semester.”

Ximenez said 5,000 students registered for their spring 2011 classes less than a week before they began, a window that is now closed.

Texas’ new law concerning meningitis vaccinations also contributed to lowering attendance. Beginning this semester, all new students under 30 who don’t have intense allergies or religious objections are required to be vaccinated for meningitis. The vaccine is around $130, and although Tarrant County Public Health offers state-assisted vaccines for $25, their availability “ebbed and flowed” last fall, said public information officer Vanassa Joseph.

Ximenez thinks the new law on meningitis vaccines caused difficulties for enrolling students but doesn’t know how much.

“Yes [it was a problem], but we only have anecdotal information,” he said. “I know it created another barrier for students to enroll.”

Miscommunications about the law became a problem for many students who didn’t need the vaccine, like Russell Moller, who was enrolled last fall.

“Basically, I just heard from my friends that in order to enroll this semester, you had to have that vaccine,” Moller said. “I actually came here [to file the vaccination forms], waited for two hours, then they told me I didn’t need it.”

Ximenez said the college filed about 10,200 meningitis vaccination forms between September and the spring semester’s first day Jan. 17 but filed 1,000 within a week after the semester began. This could mean a spike in enrollment for the second eight-week classes, he said.

The numbers on NE and South campuses are additionally affected by allied health and nursing programs moving to TR, said NE registrar Brian Barrett. However, he thinks other factors that affected his campus were also involved.

“I think what hit us really hard was those programs moving to TR,” Barrett said.

TR registrar Jerry Racioppi acknowledged the allied health and nursing programs as a major part of his campus’ increase but said that with between 750 and 800 students enrolled in the programs, they accounted for less than half the growth.

Racioppi praised the campus administration for shaping a culture on TR that, he thinks, has brought in students.

“I think the leadership [TR president Tahita Fulkerson and vice president Bryan Stewart] was very deliberate,” Racioppi said. “They crafted this school as they thought it should be from the ground up.”

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