Virginia Western Community College started its fall 2022 semester with a projected 5.9 percent increase in the key enrollment category of FTEs, or full-time equivalencies. This follows a summer semester that also saw a 6.4 percent increase in overall student enrollment.

“The trendlines are looking good,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western. “We are so excited to see classrooms filling up and our campus coming to life again. Students are enrolling in more hours and finding a class schedule that works for them.”

Sandel said he believes the increase can be attributed to a number of factors, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic shifting to a new phase. But he also praised the entire College community for coming together and offering creative ideas on how to reach more prospective students and retain those already enrolled.

“They all took the message to heart – at every level of the College – that when our enrollment is down, people in the community are missing opportunities to improve their lives. I’m so proud of what’s happening here.”

The College’s FTE numbers are current as of August 25. Overall enrollment figures are expected to increase further once the number of dual-enrolled and career-credit students are tallied later in the fall.

The FTE increase was the first at the College since the 2013-14 academic year, following a nationwide trend of community college enrollment declining after the 2008 Recession.

Sandel cited other factors in Virginia Western’s enrollment uptick:

  • Increased awareness of the financial support available to students, including the state’s G3 initiative and Virginia Western’s Community College Access Program (CCAP)
  • A new strategic initiative to increase in-person outreach in the community, particularly focused on adult students and underserved populations
  • More advisors to help on-board new students and keep them on track during their academic careers
  • Scheduling that offers greater flexibility, with classes at night, online or hybrid
  • The launch of new in-demand programs such as Physical Therapy Assistant, Surgical Technology, Biotechnology and Agricultural Science

“Our advisors are telling me that students are very enthusiastic about this school year,” Sandel said. “My message to everyone is, ‘Welcome back, we’re here to help you succeed.’ ”