It’s the most crowded community colleges have been in over a decade!


This chart shows LLC’s enrollment this fall semester, sorted by student status. The college experienced an increase in all classifications except dual credit and continuing. Photo via Valerie Lynch.

Audra Gullquist, Editor-in-Chief

For the first time in over a decade, community colleges in Illinois have seen a system-wide increase in enrollment. Lake Land College (LLC) exceeded state average in headcount and Full-time Equivalent (FTE). The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) reported that statewide, Fall 2022 enrollment increased by 1.5 percent in headcount and 0.3 percent in FTE, compared to the previous year. Illinois State Governor, J.B Pritzer stated that “Once again, Illinois is bucking national trends and defying the odds—this time with systemwide community college enrollment. As we recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, our community colleges are bouncing back with increased enrollment. This achievement is a direct result of our state’s wonderful faculty and educators as well as our determined students—ready to jump into their learning and preparation for the jobs of the future. We are on the right track, and we are only getting started.”


28 community colleges in Illinois, including LLC, experienced headcount growth this Fall. LLC’s headcount increased by 2.7 percent, while FTE increased by 4.6 percent. LLC also saw a 43 percent rise among transfer students. Although dual credit enrollment has increased by 9.7 percent systemwide, it has not increased at LLC. In most classifications, except dual credit and continuing students, LLC has seen increases. Dual credit enrollment decreased by 1.44 percent and continuing enrollment decreased by 9.49 percent. 


For the past two years, LLC has seen steady decreases in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Valerie Lynch, vice president for Student Services at LLC, stated that this new enrollment growth is very significant for our college. Lynch stated that, “Coming out of the pandemic, we took a dip. To see it coming back is really good. Even for it to stabilize is good. Even if some don’t lose or gain, that’s actually a positive sign.” 


Lynch belives that there are multiple factors that contributed to this year’s enrollment growth. She stated that a big reason behind the rise is that LLC has become significantly more open in terms of COVID restrictions. She stated that “ In my mind, this fall is really the first ‘normal’ fall that we’ve had where students had the freedom to choose online or in-person classes. There weren’t a lot of COVID restrictions, pretty much none, starting with the fall semester of 22. So, I think that for some people, they saw that as an opportunity to come back in full swing.” She also commented on the fact that many students are happy to be back. They have a sense of normalcy in their lives once again. 


Lynch also believes that the economy has heavily influenced enrollment rates. Whenever the economy is doing well, enrollment at LLC becomes stable or even decreases. However, Lynch stated that, “When the economy takes a sly or inflation is high, which it is right now, some people take that as an opportunity to get more skills and go back to school. That very well could be what we are seeing, it’s just a unique situation that we are in because we’ve never in my lifetime had a global pandemic to kind of mix everything up. So what we are used to historically, we just aren’t sure if that’s the same anymore.” Lynch isn’t certain if this is the case yet, since this growth is still relatively new. She stated that there hasn’t been enough time to determine if this increase will continue. 

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