Many area graduates planning on attending local colleges

If this year’s preliminary enrollment numbers are any indication, area colleges can expect more of the same when it comes to retaining local high school graduates.

Representatives of Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Business College and SUNY Fredonia are reporting that, thus far, the majority of incoming freshmen enrollments for the 2014-2015 academic year are coming from local and regional high schools.

Though all three colleges report slight enrollment shifts in other categories, local enrollments are staying the course. At Jamestown Community College, this year’s numbers up to this point have been in line with those of 2013’s fall semester.

“While it’s too early to predict total fall enrollment numbers, we do know that applications for new students are running very close to last fall,” said Nelson Garifi, director of marketing and academic initiatives for JCC. “That is significant as fewer students graduated from regional high schools this June.”

“We continue to receive new applications every week,” Garifi continued.

Garifi said he anticipates that JCC will receive a comparable, if not higher, number of Unified Student Assistance Scholarship students in the coming year. The scholarship allows area high school seniors who graduate in the top 20 percent of their class to attend JCC tuition-free. He said a high number of area valedictorians and salutatorians are also expected at JCC for 2014-2015.

A similar trend is being experienced at Jamestown Business College, where President David Conklin said the student body is still predominantly locally based.

“We are seeing a moderate increase to the number of students coming in from Pennsylvania, but the vast majority are coming from Jamestown and Chautauqua County,” Conklin said.

According to information provided by Conklin, JBC’s enrollment figures as of Monday break down as follows: 74 percent incoming from Chautauqua County; 11 percent incoming from Cattaraugus County; and 15 percent incoming from Pennsylvania’s Warren County.

For many years, more SUNY Fredonia students have come from Erie County than any other. According to Michael Barone, director of public relations for SUNY Fredonia, the college has undertaken a handful of initiatives that seek to further incentivize Fredonia for students located in territories outside of the western New York region, but Erie County is still leading the way.

“Our top three counties have historically been Erie, Chautauqua and Monroe, in that order,” Barone said. “In general, a goal of ours has been to lessen our dependency on those areas and broaden the overall diversity of our student population.”

Barone said approximately two-thirds of the 2008-2009 student population was obtained from the aforementioned counties, but that percentage has dropped to half as of the 2013-2014 school year.

As far as enrollments from Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, he said the college is holding steady.

“For Chautauqua County, in 2013, we had 85 first-year students enroll, as opposed to 83 in 2012 and 82 in 2011,” he said. “We are presently at 71, which may appear low, but is actually on pace with prior years, since many more local students will wait until the last minute to commit to Fredonia compared to those coming from a further distance. We expect the final number to be in the mid-80s as well. This is even more encouraging when you consider that the county was forecast to have a 10.6 percent decrease in high school graduates during this span.”

He reported a comparable number of students coming from Cattaraugus County this year, with 26 early deposits versus 25 total in 2013, 30 in 2012 and 23 in 2011.

“Overall, Fredonia is being seen as an increasingly attractive option for our local residents,” Barone said.

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