College enjoying significant gains
Summer enrollment is up at Your Eastern Shore Community College by nearly 40% compared to last year. ESCC leads all of Virginia’s community colleges where the enrollment increase averages 6%. ESCC has enrolled 195 students this summer.
“This is our YES!,” said Dr. James Shaeffer, president of ESCC, “which stands for Your Eastern Shore. It is a manifestation of the tremendous effort our staff and faculty are putting into the refresh at ESCC.
After a comprehensive assessment by the Virginia Community College System, the viability of ESCC was brought into question due to high costs and declining enrollment. In 2019, Chancellor DuBois implemented a “reboot” of ESCC, a three-year period during which ESCC must become viable as an independent community college.
Dr. Tompkins, Vice President of Academic, Student, and Workforce Programs attributed the enrollment increase to the unusual circumstances of the pandemic. “There’s a lot of unmet need out there,” Tompkins stated, “from high school students who ended their year early to students at other colleges who cannot return to those campuses to unemployed workers seeking retraining and career switching.”
ESCC is also seeing an increase in enrollment for the fall semester of 12.6% compared to the fall of 2019. While Tompkins said it is too soon to know where ESCC will end up with fall enrollment, he is encouraged by the trend line. ESCC is one of only two of Virginia’s twenty-three community colleges where fall enrollment is increasing.
Cheryll Mills, Coordinator of Student Services, believes ESCC’s personal touch is making the difference. “One advantage of a small college is that we know our students by name, not just an ID number.”
ESCC’s career and success coaches personally contact every current student and everyone who submits an application. “We use phone, text, email, and other forms of technology to reach our students by any means necessary,” Mills stated.
ESCC also experienced an enrollment increase in the spring semester after several years of steadily declining enrollment, again leading the pack among Virginia’s community colleges. “We have the secret sauce,” Shaeffer said, “and that is our commitment to our students and our guiding faith that we are Your Eastern Shore.”