Bismarck State College reports spring enrollment numbers are down 2.4 percent overall for a total of 3,887 students compared to last spring's record enrollment of 3,985 students. This is the first time BSC's enrollment numbers have decreased since 2004.
The official fourth week enrollment report shows that of the total students enrolled, 2,275 are full time and 1,612 are part-time students. Part-time student enrollment increased 7.5 percent, and full-time student enrollment declined 8.5 percent.
While enrollment numbers often sag slightly in spring compared to the fall numbers, BSC president Larry C. Skogen cites two key factors in explaining the slight decline: a lack of affordable housing for students and the robust job market - in particular the opportunities for young men in the oil fields.
According to the enrollment report, the number of women attending BSC has increased slightly, but the number of North Dakota males has decreased more than 7 percent. Overall, North Dakota student numbers at BSC have declined by 3.8 percent .
"The influx of residents into the community due to the Bakken boom has driven up rental costs and depleted available affordable housing for our students," Skogen said. "To address this, we are already engaged in discussions about building new housing on our campus."
He also notes that North Dakota's young men are becoming more likely to work in the Bakken for $80,000 per year now than they are to spend money earning a two-year degree for later.
"The importance of an educational foundation is undeniable, but it's tough for young people to see that when faced with such lucrative alternatives," he said.
Skogen notes that BSC has made the budget adjustments necessary to adapt to the lower numbers and will look to focus on potential growth areas moving forward. Those opportunities include a focus on student completion - reaching out to those who need to complete a degree begun years earlier; attracting online students outside of North Dakota; and focusing on programs that traditionally attract women, such as healthcare.
About Bismarck State College Bismarck State College, an innovative community college in Bismarck, N.D., offers high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities. For more information visit www.bismarckstate.edu.