Sinclair enrollment down? Rocket scientists can’t figure it out.

Two things that the jedi masters at Sinclair and in the County Administration Building haven’t figured out:

  • Sprawl makes it harder to bring people togther.
  • Deregulation gives people more choices- at first.

So, because we’ve let sprawl run amok, the effective costs of going to Sinclair rise with higher gas prices. And, when you let Clark State build a building right across from WSU- you will lose some students. Not only that, when you start wasting time and energy pursuing a new campus in Warren County- you stop focusing on delivering top quality to the people who brung you to the dance- the people of Montgomery County.

So, this is an “I told you so” article:

Sinclair reports 4.5 percent drop in downtown students
DAYTON — Sinclair Community College is analyzing a slow slide in its enrollment as declining population in Montgomery County and the city of Dayton appears to be draining its downtown Dayton campus.

A preliminary headcount on Tuesday shows a 4.5 percent drop for the college’s Dayton campus compared to fall last year, said Robert Johnson, senior vice president for Sinclair.

While a new campus in Warren County and two learning centers elsewhere in Montgomery County have added students, the downtown campus drop overshadowed that growth, bringing total headcount down 1.7 percent overall, Johnson said.

Sinclair will not officially report specific headcounts until Sept. 19, but shared the estimates at a board of trustees meeting Tuesday.

Sinclair’s headcount in fall 2006 was 22,786 students, of which 15,128 attended the downtown campus.

“We’ve been sliding since 2003,” Johnson said. “Part of the problem is demographics, and part of it is local economics.”

Sinclair has seen “conspicuous” decreases among in-county, part-time, female and evening students and students ages 20-29, according to Johnson’s 2007-08 strategic plan released to trustees Tuesday.

The enrollment drop creates a challenge for the college, trustees said, given that Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut have asked Sinclair and other Ohio colleges to grow enrollment by 30 percent in the next 10 years.

The mandate is part of Strickland’s effort to increase the number of Ohioans pursuing four-year degrees.

“We have some serious threats out there,” said Ethel Washington-Harris, Sinclair trustee and chair of the subcommittee that reviewed the enrollment report.

Competition from Springfield-based Clark State University’s new campus in Beavercreek, which opens this fall, may draw some of Sinclair’s 2,300 students who commute from Greene County, the report said.

Sinclair plans to study the drops, and will create an aggressive strategic plan to grow enrollment by 3 percent or about 700 students each year, Johnson said.

After years of growth, despite horrible marketing (the “starting here” thing suggests it’s not a serious place of higher learning- sort of like a “starter marriage”) and relying on its low per-credit cost- Sinclair is now facing the reality: when there are other options, their value isn’t readily accepted.

Had the college concentrated on better communications, better utilization of facilities, working with mass transit options to move students to and from campus instead of building new buildings- enrollment wouldn’t be dropping. Had Sinclair actively worked to allow Dayton DMA residents- instead of only Montgomery County residents- attend at the in-county rate, the Clark State threat wouldn’t have happened.

What would a high-speed rail line from Middletown done to increase enrollment? And workforce mobility? Compared to building a new campus?

We need to think bigger and more holistically if we want to grow our community resources and social capital.

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8 Responses

  1. Bruce Kettelle September 14, 2007 / 6:50 am
    ..and I’ve seen plenty of on-line ads from their competition but not a one from Sinclair.

    It will be interesting to see all their competitors enrollment figures to see if there are fewer students studying in the region or if they have actually plucked enrollment away from Sinclair. When will those numbers be available?

  2. Siquomb September 14, 2007 / 8:34 am
    Yep, the marketing is bad, though latest round of TV commercials is somewhat improved.
  3. Jeff September 15, 2007 / 9:08 am
    Sinclair is one of the best community colleges I’ve seen in terms of the programs it offers and its mission of development of human capital for the local economy. Especially with the cost of four year colleges pricing people out of the BS/BA market, places like Sinclair are a good alternative to learn more technical things as a way of improving their lot in life.

    I think what Sincair is doing in Warren is probably the right move, sort of becoming the Warren County commuity college the way Clark State is becoming the Greene County community college. In a way Clark State moving to the Beavercreek/Fairborn area is another sign on how Greene County is its own place in some ways.

    I also agree with Bruce Kettelle on questions re enrollment.

    Also, Middletown has its own college, the Miami U branch campus.

  4. Brother Omi September 17, 2007 / 9:47 pm
    i did a lecture at scc last tuesday. the campus is huge! especially for a community college with a city population that does not even put it on the secondary city list. its beautiful but i expected swarms of students. instead i saw a little here and a little there.
  5. David Esrati September 17, 2007 / 9:56 pm

    The architecture at Sinclair can only be described as 70’s bunker style. Very little character, even less interest in the people within the campus. If architecture were rated by degree- Antarctica would be a tropical hot spot by comparison.

  6. MattS September 17, 2007 / 10:54 pm
    Isn’t the answer to the question “Why did our downtown enrollment drop?” the fact that they’ve opened the satellite campuses? I’ve gotta think they cannibalized their own product a little…

    And if you’re feeling masochistic, have a look sometime at what they tore down to build the brutalist jewel of a campus.

  7. Jeff September 18, 2007 / 4:28 pm
    The architect of Sinclair was Edward Durrell Stone, one of the pioneer modernists in the USA. His first big work was the original MOMA in NYC, back in the 1930s.

    Later he beame a notorious apostate to high moderism, adopting this very severe classicizing version of the style. His most famous works are the Albany Mall in Albany and the Hutington Hartford gallery on Columbus Circle in NYC, and the GM Building on 5th Avnue in NYC and the old Standard Oil of Indiana building in Chicago.

    Less stellar, in this region, he did the Capital Plaza in Frankfort (Kentuckys low-budget version of the Albany Mall…totally out of scale to Lebanon-ish Frankfort) and the Kirwan-Blanding dorm complex at UK, and the Montgomery County Administration building.

    Sinclair is really wierd. In some ways it’s intended to seem like a little village, with that decorative vent tower mimicing a belltower or something, in a court surrounded by those classroom buildings. But inisde its like a Clockwork Orange sci-fi set, or one of those movies where the outside atmosphere is contaminated and you have to move around inside or via habitrail enclosed skywalks.

    Stone’s firm (probably not him) also designed the Citizens Federal building. There they were able to use better materials, but one still sees that very severe, gridded, geometrical style or design language Stone used, or his firm used.

  8. Lynn October 2, 2007 / 1:07 pm
    I can list a few reasons why Sinclair is losing students. When canceling a class, they dont advise the student. I had submitted to them that they advise the student and then let them know what times of that same class that they did offer. I had them do it to me recently for a phys ed class. I had to find out on my own, reschedule the class on my own, after I had already paid. Sinclair wouldnt have told me anything and just returned my money. I think they need to learn how to retend students. I gave this suggestion to the manager of the admissions and her response was simply, well I see you signed up for another class. Yeah because Im proactive, what about students that arent or who are new and young and dont know anything.

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