Environmental Scan: Planning Questions - Research and Planning Office

  • Headcount numbers of Hispanic students declined by 5.1% in 2007FA at the same time district Hispanic population increased from 18.0% to 19.4% of district residents, widening the under-represented gap for Hispanics on campus from 6.4% to 8.0%. With targeted efforts to reach Hispanics, why are we losing ground?

  • Ohlone has had a declining evening enrollment—both in percent and in numbers (down 1,000 evening students since 2001FA). Are there factors that now make evening classes less attractive? Has the college-going culture changed?

  • 70% less freshmen than in 2005FA came without high school graduation. Is this good because high schools are doing a better job of graduating students? Is the perception of the college now more transfer-, rather than vocational-, oriented? Or are we just not attracting this segment of the population?

  • Student retention rates (the percent of students persisting in a class after census) have been in decline for the past three years and are below the state average. Are students now more prone to drop classes mid-semester to avoid substandard grades? Are faculty more diligent in encouraging drops to avoid bad grades? Or has the college lost some of that connection to students that encourages and supports student success?

  • Similarly, student success rates (the percent of students receiving a grade of C or better) fell for the fourth straight year and are also below the state average. What do these increasing rates of substandard grades reflect: …academic integrity? …high expectations? …under-prepared students? …under-staffed student support services?

  • Retention and success rates in online classes are also in decline, and both rates are below the rates for not-online classes, reversing a trend of just two years ago. In the rush to increase online offerings, did we neglect some student academic support services tailored to the online student?

  • Efforts to increase full-time student enrollment are showing gains, with the percent of students who are full-time increasing in 2007FA from 24.4% to 27.0%. Title III has employed Learning Communities as a vehicle to foster full-time growth. Have these learning communities been the key to this success, or do learning communities tend to primarily attract students who would be full-time, anyway? Is the growth in full-time students attributable to something else: …the economy, maybe?

  • The number of students transferring to Universities of California and to the California State Universities declined in 2006-07, as has the entering grade point averages of those students who do transfer. Why?

  • Deaf enrollments have been in decline (by over 25%) since 2005FA; but retention rates in Deaf classes are almost 95%, and success rates are at the highest level since 2001FA. We obviously have a good program; how do we get enrollment numbers back up?

  • Within basic skills, retention and success rates are increasing overall, but especially for the English composition and ESL courses. There are notable declines in reading and math. All basic skills are supported by Title III and by the Basic Skills Initiative. Why are we succeeding more in some areas of basic skills but not succeeding in others?

  • Although basic skills math retention rates are up, the success rates in basic skills math are the lowest since 2001FA. How is it that we are keeping more students to the end of the term then giving them substandard grades? Is it the student, the faculty, or the nature of math?

  • The number of student education plans written by the counseling department has increased but has been abysmally low in years prior to 2007FA, apparently a coding and reporting problem. Why don’t we capture this data since it is publicly reported on the Chancellor’s Office site?

  • Both the numbers and percent of staff in administration/management positions have been in decline, raising the student-to-administrator ratio to its highest since before 2001FA. Is this good, or bad?

  • Headcount enrollment declined in 2007FA although FTES increased. At the same time, the percent of students age 19 or less increased while students in the 30 to 49 year old age groups decreased. Can we expect that there will be more students coming to prepare for career or educational goals and less students attending for personal enrichment? There will be a dramatic increase in the district of residents age 60+.

  • 2007FA witnessed a 10% increase (1,000 headcount) in continuing students over 2006FA. There was also the lowest first-time student count since before 2001FA. Is this decline in first-time students “real” or is it a coding problem? What do we do if it is real?

  • Returning students are down 5% from 2006FA. Does this mean students are less likely to take a semester off in the midst of their college careers and are steadily persevering semester-to-semester, showing as “continuing” rather than “returning”? Will this rush to completion mean we have to do a better job of writing student educational plans and scheduling courses to meet student demand if students are becoming more goal oriented?

  • 2007FA FTES enrollment in basic skills rose 43.6%, much of this due to recoding of courses following the ARCC and CRCC data clean-up by the Chancellor’s Office. FTES enrollment in transferable credit courses increased 3.9% in 2007FA, but FTES enrollment in vocational courses declined 3.0%. Is this a trend we welcome because we are gaining a larger percentage of transfer-directed students, or should we be concerned about the decline in vocational interest?

  • English continues to be the top producer of WSCH, but 2007-08 saw a dramatic 39.2% jump in English WSCH over the previous five year average. Mathematics remains the second highest producer of WSCH and rose 27.4% in 2007-08 over its previous five year average. To produce the additional 39.2% and 27.4% of WSCH, English and Math FTEF rose only 10.2% and 11.4% respectively. Where is the line between being efficient and being over-worked? Have we crossed it, yet?

  • Among colleges in the Bay 10 districts, Ohlone has the highest average salary for full- time instructors, but the lowest hourly rate for adjunct instructors. Who speaks for the adjuncts?

  • Within the Bay 10, Ohlone has the second lowest percent of Hispanic administrators and the second lowest percent of both full-time and adjunct instructors. Are Hispanic students staying away from Ohlone in part because there are relatively so few role models? Can the same case be made for African-American students since Ohlone has the lowest percentage of African-American administrators and full-time faculty in the Bay 10?

  • With 43% of district households home to foreign-born residents, could we successfully offer more ESL classes or begin to offer classes leading to American citizenship?

  • All program awards have been in decline for each of the past four years, and degrees awarded have declined 20% since 2004-05. Ohlone’s graduation rate is in the bottom third of Bay 10 colleges for students graduating with an associate’s degree. Are we failing to graduate students, or failing to report them?