Eastern Gateway seeing jump in enrollment with more online students

Eastern Gateway's president said several thousand have already registered for the fall semester, which is expecting 11,000

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) –  Administrators with Eastern Gateway Community College said they could be seeing an increase in enrollment figures thanks to more students taking classes online.

Cherelle Whitfield is planning on taking classes this fall at Eastern Gateway, including some that are online. She said it’s often easier to do coursework from home.

“It’s less distraction, of course, less expensive because you’re at home. You don’t have to leave nowhere so you can do it anytime, like day, night, evening.”

Administrators said enrollment for the spring semester this year was about 6,300 between its campuses in Youngstown and Steubenville, programs at local high schools, and online students.

Despite the recent closing of Eastern Gateway’s Warren facility, those enrollment figures are expected to jump to 11,000 this fall with most of that increase coming from those using the internet.

“A lot of our students are single parents, they’re working adults and so they…can come here and stay every day for the entire morning, or afternoon, or whatever,” President Jimmie Bruce said. “So it gives them an opportunity to still have an on-campus environment.”

Bruce said several thousand have already registered for the fall.

“We track the number of inquiries that we get on a daily basis, and then we follow up with those inquiries, and then track the number of applications that come in.”

He said that trend actually began a year ago when the college started working with the municipal government workers union — AFSCME — and its 1.6 million members.

“We’ve seen more interest. We’ve expanded programs we’re doing online and we’re also now working with more unions,” Bruce said.

Tuition at Eastern Gateway is roughly half of other colleges in the region and the unions offer financial incentives to their members, according to Bruce. He expects that combination could push enrollment projections even higher a year from now, whether for first-time students or those looking for work-related training.

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