Enrollment is on the rise at North Shore Community College (NSCC) after over a decade of declines. NSCC enrollment has increased just over 10 percent for the Fall 2023 semester from this time last year, to 4,833 credit students.
NSCC President William Heineman noted that many factors contributed to the increase: students taking more credits as more people recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic; the college’s growing Early College program; and the Commonwealth’s new MassReconnect initiative which offers free community college for those 25 and over.
“I am proud of the teamwork that produced these enrollment results this fall. Purposeful, strategic action on the part of many people at the college is also responsible. The Division of Academic and Student Development created a comprehensive student experience designed to promote belonging, well-being, and academic achievement for our diverse student body at NSCC,” said Heineman. “We are working hard to fulfill our institutional mission and strategic plan in the areas of student success, retention, transfer, academic support and wellness,” he added.
As of Sept. 15, 344 students have benefited from MassReconnect at NSCC, with a third of those students being brand-new to the College.
The college’s commitment to creating equitable student outcomes is part of its ongoing work. “Changing lives for the better is anchored in the vision of the college’s strategic plan. Data indicates that our students who do experience excellent outcomes are not distributed equally across those of all backgrounds. Hispanic students, for instance, regularly experience an equity gap in success measures compared to white students at NSCC,” Heineman said.
NSCC’s strategic plan sets a goal of eliminating such equity gaps within five years. “Our plan is full of strategies for that work and we will be pursuing them vigorously in the coming academic year. The Commonwealth has stepped up with some very significant policy changes that will allow more students to experience the life changing impact of higher education. We must step up as well,” Dr. Heineman said.
He pointed out that this year Governor Healey signed the most generous budget for public higher education in recent memory. In addition to MassReconnect, the FY 24 budget includes: funding for planning for free community college for all students; free community college for nursing students, to address one of the many obstacles of graduating more students with nursing degrees to fill significant labor shortages; high-demand scholarships of $25 million for students pursuing degrees in fields with particularly urgent staffing needs in the Commonwealth; and in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid for undocumented students.
There are also increases in state appropriations for student financial aid, the SUCCESS Fund, Early College, and higher education institutional budgets (including for NSCC).
“There is no singular solution to reverse a sustained enrollment decline. Under President Heineman’s leadership, the college took bold action in a number of critical areas simultaneously, and the results are paying off,” said Dr. Jennifer Mezquita, Provost. “We know that our students face many challenges while attending NSCC, which is why we have expanded our commitment to them and the wraparound services that we offer.”