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JCC holds orientation, expects another year of record enrollment

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As Jefferson Community College heads into the year of its 50th commencement, it boasts high enrollment and better student retention than ever.

As of Thursday morning, 3,720 students were registered to attend the community college’s first day of class Monday, but President Carole A. McCoy stressed the enrollment changes by the minute through next week.

“Nothing is final,” she said. “It’s up and down constantly.”

She predicts enrollment will either meet last year’s record-breaking numbers or be up a percent or two.

“I’m hearing from my colleagues across the state that many community colleges are dealing with declines in enrollment,” Mrs. McCoy said. “So, we’re bucking the trend.”

It is not just new students that are keeping JCC’s numbers up.

“Also, the number of continuing students we have is very high,” she said. “It’s about 100 students more than we had the previous year in that category. I think that those efforts focusing on completion and having students come back go together.”

Last year, all SUNY schools held a Completion Day to encourage students to stay on track toward graduation. This year, they will have a Completion Week from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

“I don’t think the importance of completing is ever going to diminish,” Mrs. McCoy said.

Additionally, 401 military veterans were enrolled as of Thursday morning, another record for the community college.

“If the Army Tuition Assistance program had not been restored, that would have been a different story,” she said.

Because of the consistency in enrollment, new programs in creative writing, literature and winery management are bursting with students.

Thursday was one of the last days of student orientation. Dozens of new students circulated the Jules Center Commons to clear up questions about everything from financial aid to tutoring services.

“I’m happy to be back in school,” said 20-year-old Nikki V. Harris-Lauteri, Watertown. “I’m excited to finally be going somewhere rather than not having a career.”

After dropping out of high school, she finished her general educational development degree requirements through the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. She hopes to become a nurse like her mother and grandmother.

Nineteen-year-old Alexa N. Hanson, Theresa, attended orientation last week and was in the school’s bookstore getting textbooks for her classes.

“It’s close to home,” she said, explaining why she chose to attend JCC. “I’m kind of nervous because it’s new and different.”

Coordinator of New Student Services Deanna L. Lothrop has seen many nervous new students in the past week. Her job is to ease those fears.

New additions to orientation include helping students set up their email, attending a faculty and staff panel on academic and personal support services and allowing parents to meet with Vice President for Students Betsy D. Penrose.

“Every year, we see students who are nervous about the transition to college,” Mrs. Lothrop said. “The number one question for students is, ‘Where are my classes.’”

Student campus orientation leaders are offering personalized tours of new students’ classrooms. Additionally, there will be a table in the quad from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday to answer any questions, print lost schedules and help find classrooms.

“Our goal is to have all students start on Monday being comfortable with campus,” she said.

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