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Palomar’s enrollment down for fifth year

Palomar's spring enrollment from 2010 to 2015.
Palomar’s spring enrollment from 2010 to 2015.

Palomar’s enrollment numbers have been steadily dropping.

There are 22,000 students currently enrolled at Palomar, according to an email sent by Laura Gropen, Palomar’s spokeswoman. Last Fall, there were 24,688 students at Palomar.

This is only a preliminary figure, she added. The actual census is taken later in August.

But the college’s enrollment has been on a steady decline since 2010, when the college had close to 30,000 students. In Spring of 2014, Palomar had about 24,000 students. Last semester, the college’s number dropped to 22,687.

This parallels an overall drop in enrollment across the country. Two-year colleges experienced a 10 percent drop in enrollment numbers between 2012 and 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.

This isn’t an unusual change, according to Gropen.

“The interesting trend is that when the economy is not good, we have a lot more people taking classes,” Gropen said.

On the other end of the spectrum, when the economy is good, more students return to the workforce.

Gropen also added that Palomar officials anticipated this decline, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

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Classes cancelled due to low enrollment such as Room MD-105, on Aug.25. Photo: Patty Hayton/The Telescope

The growth of Calfornia State University San Marcos may have also had an impact on Palomar’s enrollment. In 2007, CSUSM only had 8,000 students. Now, the university has closer to 15,000, Gropen said.

“They’re admitting larger numbers over there,” Gropen said, “So that certainly would contribute to a decline in our enrollment.”

But the enrollment decline hasn’t been the same for all colleges.

MiraCosta College in Oceanside, for example, has seen a lessened decline than Palomar.

There are currently 14,000 students enrolled at MiraCosta, a slight rise from the last semester, according to Rita Soza, MiraCosta’s public information officer.

But there are pockets around the state where enrollment numbers at community colleges are down, and pockets where they are up, Gropen said.

Similarly, Gropen cautioned that these enrollment numbers are only preliminary projections. The actual enrollment census, the number which Palomar is given state funding for, is taken on Aug. 31. In recent years, Palomar has actually accommodated more students than they’ve been paid for.

The most noticeable effect of fewer students are fewer classes. If a class roster isn’t at a minimum number, that class is cut to save money.

Other factors, including the state’s recent measure to limit the amount of times a student is able to repeat a class, could contribute to the decrease.

But whether Palomar’s enrollment is declining or not, as the biggest community college in the area, it may not be able to offer every student the class they need.

Gropen said that she hasn’t heard about students not being able to get classes, although in the past, Palomar has tried to make accommodations for students whose classes may have been cut.

But Christine Miciano, a former Palomar student, said she switched to MiraCosta for a variety of reasons, including not being able to get the classes she needed when she needed them.

She said that it was a lot easier for her to enroll in classes at MiraCosta than it was at Palomar. In one case, she wasn’t able to take a biology class for two semesters.

“The system was down because so many people were trying to enroll in classes,” she said.

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Palomar’s enrollment down for fifth year