Enrollment increased 39 percent from 2016 to 2020
SPARTANBURG—Spartanburg Methodist College announces it has exceeded a goal to grow its student body to 1,000 by 2020. 1,025 full-time new, returning and transfer students are enrolled at SMC this fall, and they comprise the largest student population in the college’s 109-year history.
This is the fourth straight year of record enrollment growth at the college and a 39 percent increase in study body size since 2016, when enrollment dropped to 736 full-time students.
That same year, President Scott Cochran, who had been in his new role for just a few months, announced the college would grow to 1,000 students by 2020. As a first step, he made immediate investments in marketing and recruitment. Working with faculty, administrators and the college’s Board of Trustees, Cochran led planning to expand the college’s academic offerings to meet changing student needs. In 2018, the college announced it would launch its first online associate degree and a unique on-ground bachelor’s degree with a focus on career preparation. Both programs began enrolling students in 2019. This fall, the college began accepting students into a second 100 percent online degree—an Associate in Arts (general college studies program).
“The most important thing for everyone at SMC has always been serving the students who depend on us for an affordable and high-quality education,” Cochran said. “Accomplishing this enrollment goal is an important milestone for our campus community after four years of incredibly hard work and significant change. In the middle of a global pandemic, we’re just as proud that students and parents have placed their trust in us to provide that education as safely as possible.”
Fall classes began on August 19 after a phased move-in to campus residence halls. Students, staff and faculty follow a rigorous set of safety protocols that include required mask use, daily symptom checks and social distancing. Resident and commuter students taking in-person classes also must be tested weekly for COVID-19.
When planning to reopen, administrators not only considered the needs of students who wanted in-person classes, but also those who might not want to return to campus because of fears about COVID-19, says Ben Maxwell, vice president for enrollment. “We knew some students would feel more comfortable staying home or might have no choice but to stay home due to illness or quarantine,” he says. “We didn’t want their education interrupted this semester and felt certain giving them the choice of in-person or online was the right thing to do. Students have the option of taking their fall classes either way.”
To serve students face-to-face and virtually, faculty spent a good portion of their summers preparing fall courses for online and in-person delivery.