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DMACC enrollment rebounding, but still far below pre-pandemic levels

DMACC's enrollment is up 4.1% this fall compared to a year ago, but 2021's numbers still trail behind 2019's.

ANKENY, Iowa — Enrollment is bouncing back at Des Moines Area Community College after a drop last year.

Nationwide, community colleges saw a 9.5% drop in enrollment from fall 2019 to fall 2020 according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

DMACC saw a 14.7% enrollment decline over that time period. Now, enrollment is back up 4.1% from last year, the school's president Rob Denson said, but it's still far below pre-pandemic levels.

DMACC fall enrollment:

2019: 24,466

2020: 20,863 

2021: 21,795 

Denson credits the increase from 2020 in part to more students being comfortable coming back to classes, but also to DMACC's persistence.

"Any student who has stopped out or dropped out [of DMACC classes] and can come back, we text them, we send letters to them, and let them know space is available," Denson said.

DMACC also added eight new college and career transition counselors this year. The counselors spend one day a week at DMACC and the rest of their time at K-12 schools helping answer students' questions about college.

Denson said those they have also helped bring students in.

"They've been looking at students who graduated last May who really hadn't decided to go on and so we're reaching back out and [helping] them decide come here or go somewhere else," Denson said. "According to the report I got, we've got at least 11 individuals who were not going to college, who now decided to come to DMACC."

He also said the school plans to hire someone to help make the campus more diverse as students return.

"We're hiring a director more at the institutional and community level," Denson said. "But that person's primary role would be to make sure that we are connecting as deeply as possible in every diverse community."

Denson sees getting more people back in school as a way to ultimately help grow Iowa's workforce.

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