SMC spring enrollment up 11.5 percent, led state last year

Published 11:45 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College, at the end of the registration period for the current session, recorded its fifth straight semester of enrollment growth over the previous year. Spring 2024 enrollment is up 11.5 percent in contact hours, with an increase of 177 students over Spring 2023.

Confirming the upward trend, the state’s report of fiscal year equated students (FYES) for 2022-2023 was recently released, and SMC led all 28 Michigan community colleges with a 7.47-percent increase in FYES last year.

SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald attributes the college’s success to a myriad of factors. “It isn’t one thing or one person, it’s many things and many people. We are serving a near-record number of dual-enrolled students, having fully rebounded from the pandemic. The offering of online courses constitutes nearly 20 percent of our contact hours. There is favorable public policy with the Michigan Achievement Grant Scholarship and Michigan Reconnect. The return of intercollegiate athletics attracts students we haven’t served in some time. But most of all, I think our quality, in teaching and student services, is driving our strong enrollment.”

Demand for on-campus housing remains strong as well. The SMC Board of Trustees agreed earlier this month to add new rooms and a total of 36 beds to expand capacity in the three existing residence halls on the Dowagiac campus. Construction will begin this summer and the new space should be available beginning in January 2025.

“The future looks bright,” Odenwald added. “Applications for Fall 2024 are ahead of this point last year, which shows that families want what we offer at SMC.”