As most classes at Horry-Georgetown Technical College will begin virtually next week, enrollment at the college has declined nearly 9 percent as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the Myrtle Beach area, officials said.
HGTC’s headcount was down 11 percent last week compared to this time in 2019, but slightly changed to 8.7 percent as of Monday, said HGTC spokesperson Nicole Hyman.
Most technical colleges across South Carolina are seeing a decline in enrollment between eight and 25 percent, HGTC officials shared during an area commission meeting this month.
“With the uncertainty of the pandemic, that’s impacting the decisions of the students,” said Dr. Melissa Batten, HGTC vice president of student affairs.
However, trends show local students are staying home to go to technical colleges, as well as taking advantage of short-term programs for quick workforce training certifications, said HGTC President Dr. Marilyn Fore.
Despite the decline in enrollment, the college is in a “strong, healthy financial position,” said Harold Hawley, HGTC’s vice president and chief financial officer.
Any shortfalls will be fully reconciled through the college’s reserves and CARES stimulus package, he said.
The college has seen a spike in enrollment activity this month as students have received clarity about K-12 plans and their work schedules, Hyman said.
“The uncertainty that students now have in their personal and work lives has naturally led to some temporary decline in enrollment, but none that we did not forecast or otherwise prepare for,” Hyman said.
HGTC will begin classes mostly virtual Aug. 24, with an additional term beginning Sept. 14. The add/drop period will be extended to two weeks for students and the college plans to offer half-semester courses beginning mid-semester, Fore said.
Coastal Carolina University officials also expect a decline in enrollment during the upcoming semester. Official enrollment figures will not be available until a later date, said Martha Hunn, CCU spokesperson.