Ohio’s Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) a few years back developed a three-prong strategy to drive growth. It invested in online learning capabilities, developed on-campus programs that suited the needs of the regional economy, and worked out a plan to make higher education more widely available by removing the barriers to attaining an associate degree like high tuition costs and inconvenient course scheduling.
The result is that in just a few short years, EGCC, which has campuses in Steubenville and Youngstown, Ohio, has been able to grow its enrollment exponentially from approximately 3600 local students to its current 42,000 students. The college is a fully accredited, nonprofit public institution and part of the University System of Ohio.
The lion’s share of EGCC’s enrollment comes from an online free college program the institution created for members of a large trade union of public employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Members of the Cleveland Teachers Union, Local 279 and their families, for instance, can enroll in EGCC’s online distance learning program with no costs for tuition, fees or e-texts. The community college now has students enrolled in the free college initiative from all 50 states.
The college couldn’t have grown its enrollment without the help of sophisticated technology and now relies heavily on its online capabilities. Bob Roeschenthaler, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at EGCC, explained that when he came to the institution in 2017, the college was using a student information system geared for colleges with between 3,000 and 5,000 students. “This was an on-premises system that worked well, but ultimately couldn’t support our growth,” he pointed out. “We made the decision to move our student information system to the cloud.”
EGCC is using Campus Cloud, a cloud-based student information system that manages student data in one place, across admissions, academics, accounts and more. The college is still continuously making changes to the system. “We have a lot of nuances because we work with just about every union in the United States to offer the free college initiative,” Roeschenthaler explained.
System Streamlined Shift to Remote Learning
The college migrated to the new system just before the pandemic started. It allowed the institution to move employees and students to a remote model seamlessly. Roeschenthaler believes that the college will continue to operate in a remote or hybrid scenario for a while but its systems can easily handle the changes. Because of the recent rise in COVID cases, the school has once again shifted to a remote model and currently has about 2,000 students between the two campuses who are doing hands-on nursing, for instance. All other students are learning online.
“It’s been seamless for students and we’ve seen no decrease in enrollment,” Roeschenthaler pointed out.