More students expected to join in spring
By: Marie Schwarz
St. Louis Community College (STLCC) expects an in influx in enrollment due to former ITT Technical Institution students enrolling in programs, said Diana Johnson, Career and Technical Education Retention Specialist at the Meramec Campus. Johnson said that while some are already enrolled, the bulk of the transferring students are anticipated to join in spring.
Late-start classes are especially useful for former ITT Tech students this semester since ITT Tech closed on short notice in September.
“ITT closed their doors in the middle of our semester,” said Margaret Hvatum, Chair of the Business and Information Systems Department at Meramec. “And that’s made it more difficult for students to find appropriate classes.”
Johnson said about 50 students have reached out to STLCC so far, and that there are students already enrolled this semester.
“I do not have an exact number,” Johnson said. “We are looking into finding that out through our Banner system. But we do know of several students that enrolled here at Meramec and also Forest Park through the IT Program. I believe there are three former ITT students that are enrolled in Chemistry, so that they can start the process of getting into our nursing programs.”
Forest Park’s Chair of Information Systems, Brenda H.M. Kahan, said that the campus is working with about 20 students right now. Three of them are enrolled in late start classes at Forest Park since Network Engineering offers eight week courses, Kahan said.
Johnson, Hvatum and Kahan expect many more former students of ITT to enroll in spring.
“They started coming just in the same week that late-start classes began at Meramec,” Hvatum said. “And late-start classes, faculty don’t want them to join after the first week if it is a late start class because they go much more rapidly than a traditional 16-weeks class does. So it was still a little bit too late for many of those,” Hvatum said.
Johnson is excited for STLCC to be able to help some of these students out. “St. Louis will kind of get to understand that we offer the same current tech programs that some of these for-pro t schools around here do, but obviously way better benefits pricewise and the exact same benefits if not more, career wise.”
ITT Technical Institute is no longer a college, said Johnson, who worked for ITT Tech prior to STLCC.
“They closed their doors after there was a ruling with the federal government where they were no longer [able to] grant students federal funding to be able to attend school there,” Johnson said. “When all that happened, all the students were kind of left in the dark right before they were supposed to go back to school.”
Johnson said the students were told less than a week before the semester should have started that the school was closed.
STLCC has over a 100 Technical Career and Education Programs, Johnson said. “ITT did not have as many. But a lot of their programs were similar or match the ones that we offer here [at STLCC].”
Johnson said the major programs that ITT students are interested in are Information Systems or Network Security, Software Developer and Cyber Security.
“There is also big interest in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Architectural Technology, Computer Aided Design and Construction Management,” Johnson said.
Johnson said ITT students also show interest in Accounting, Business and Criminal Justice. Since ITT offered a nursing program, there are also students keen to transfer into STLCC’s Nursing Program.
“Nursing is a very big one for a lot of the students that were close to completing their nursing degree and now are interested in transferring into our nursing program here at one of our campuses,” Johnson said.
Kahan said prior to the closing of ITT Tech, STLCC did not accept credits from ITT Tech. But the special situation of ITT Tech closing led STLCC to change the rules.
“The chancellor and the whole school said ‘we want to help these students; let’s see what we can do,’” Kahan said.
In an interview with the National Public Radio, Chancellor Jeff Pittman said that STLCC is accepting up to 30 general education credit hours from ITT Tech.
Hvatum and Kahan help former ITT students to find the right courses within their departments of Information Systems and Business Administration at Meramec and Forest Park.
“We had a number of students [from ITT Tech] come in to find out what their options would be,” Hvatum said. “Some are interested in Software Development which we offer at the Meramec campus. Others are more interested in Network Engineering which is offered at the Forest Park campus. I’ve been trying to help them to find courses they can take here [at Meramec] because they can take some of the intro courses at either campus for either discipline and then take the more advanced courses at the campus where the programs [are] really offered.”
Since ITT classes were not accredited by STLCC before the closing of ITT Tech, course content and grades play a role in placing the students into the right classes at STLCC.
“I am looking at it based upon the courses that the students have completed and the grades that they got in these courses,” Hvatum said. “Because if you’ve taken a class and you’ve gotten a D it is not going to be the same amount of knowledge as if you would have received an A.”
Hvatum has been able to help the students that have done well at ITT to get into some of the more advanced courses.
“When there are some students coming who have not done well at ITT, sometimes we suggest they might be better off to take this particular course again so that they can learn the material more thoroughly,” Hvatum said.
Enrollment for ITT students:
The first point of contact for former students of ITT Tech at STLCC is Johnson.
“[The process of enrolling] is the same as any student that wants to go to St. Louis Community College,” Johnson said. “But they do have some extra obstacles and questions. For number one the biggest one I had at first they didn’t know how they will get their transcript. So we’ve kind of made a checklist that points out each specific point of what to do.”
Johnson said there were a few things ITT Tech students could do prior to signing up for classes.
“You can complete the application online, making sure that when you go see an advisor you have your unofficial transcripts or grades from ITT so that we are able to see what classes … could count or not count towards [a] degree here at STLCC,” Johnson said.
STLCC’s Florissant Valley campus hosted an open house in September for ITT students. Approximately 16 to 20 students showed up, Johnson said.
“Florissant Valley put an awesome program together for the students,” said Johnson. “They had every department represented. When you went upstairs they had instructors and program coordinators and chairs from each of the highlighted programs that were offered through ITT that kind of matched up with St. Louis Community College programs.”
Both Meramec and Forest Park have plans to host open houses in November.
“We’re having an open house in November here at Forest Park to reach out again,” Kahan said. “I think there might be a time lapse, you know, from the shock. I mean if you imagine getting that email saying ‘it’s over’ and then the shock of what that means of somebody who is almost three quarter almost finished to a program [that] in a sense no longer exists. I think there is a shock factor. … So we’re reaching out to them in November,” Kahan said.
Hvatum said that as of now there are no plans to increase faculty in Information Services, despite the fact that there is already more demand than faculty available.
However, Johnson said that if enrollment numbers increase faster than expected, plans could change.
“Getting more people enrolled would obviously show that we need more full-time faculty and [we would] probably get it faster than if our enrollment … just slowly increases,” Johnson said.