MCC Streamlines Application and Enrollment Process; Enhances Student Communication

MANCHESTER, Conn.  (November 25, 2020) – Manchester Community College, like most, has been challenged by enrollment during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  However, early enrollment predictions are showing signs of positive trends in terms of new and transfer student registrations.

This pattern, differing from last semester, is one that CEO Nicole Esposito attributes to a reorganization of staff functions that handle the onboarding of new students.

Dr. Esposito took over leadership of MCC last July in the midst of the pandemic, as well as a state budget crisis, and made a decision to strengthen the onboarding process and enrollment pipeline by moving First Year and New Student Programs and Advising under the umbrella of enrollment services.  Together, the new enrollment services group provides a more seamless experience as students apply to, enroll and study at the college.

The new organization addressed a key issue without adding cost or altering headcount, which were not options, according to Dr. Esposito.

She explained, “Amid state budget limitations, the solution was instead simply to break down the silos in enrollment management to help mitigate the bottleneck effect new students experienced as they went through the enrollment process.”

Staff and administration launched a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), a standard methodology for analyzing an organizational approach to a problem, building on what’s well done and minimizing the risk intrinsic to new solutions.

“We arrived at a significant change, and we did have some growing pains, but we also increased the collaboration among the onboarding functions,” Dr. Esposito said. “The trends for spring enrollment are an early indication of success.”

She added, “I am hopeful that this is an indication of trends we can continue to expect for our Fall 2021 semester, as a result of this new structure and additional focus on outreach.”

Another key component of this strategy going forward is the naming of Trent “T.J.” Barber as interim director of outreach and student life. Barber is responsible for managing a range of services to promote MCC’s enrollment and retention efforts.

He will work closely with the college’s program coordinators, academic advising, recruitment, admissions, registration and career services to help connect both traditional and non-traditional students with the college.

Barber will serve as a key interface with the community and help make the case for MCC as a place where students, regardless of age or demographic, can pursue their educational goals and, following graduation, find employment.

In addition, the college is focusing on outreach to community organizations and leaders, including chambers of commerce, town and city officials and employers as well as K-12 principals, counselors and school boards to ensure that MCC is positioned to serve all its stakeholders’ needs.

“In a pandemic — with data indicating that enrollment is decreasing all over the country as well as at MCC where we are also challenged by hiring freezes — the new structure is already having impact,” Dr. Esposito said.

She concluded, “The beauty of community college is that our operational and educational models have always enabled us to pivot as needed to best serve our students and the community. We are confident that we offer a clear, uninterrupted and well supported avenue for transforming the lives of our students and for the economic prosperity of the region.”