OTTUMWA — Leaders of Indian Hills Community College said student enrollment is done, though not as much as they budgeted for.

At Monday’s board of trustees meeting, college officials said they’ve seen a decrease in enrollment of about 7.1% around the college. Leaders budgeted for an 8% decrease this fall.

The enrollment is based on credit hours being taken.

New Indian Hills President Matt Thompson said it’s not an issue unique to the college. He told trustees that most are seeing enrollment declines between 5-8% in Iowa.

He said high school enrollments accounted for a portion of the decrease, due to both COVID-19 disruptions and new guidelines from the Department of Education on qualifications for students taking college-level courses.

There’s been an increase in some areas where the college has focused, though.

Joni Kelley, the executive dean of enrollment services, said that there were 535 new students enrolled this year, 16% more than there were last year.

Ottumwa High School students are enrolling more as well. Kelley said this is a product of increased office hours the college holds within the school. For the fall term last year, there were 30 students from Ottumwa High School; that number is up to 82 this fall.

Indian Hills counselors will be working with Albia and Centerville to undergo similar efforts as the college has done in Ottumwa.

Another positive, she said, is that 20 of the Ottumwa High School students new to Indian Hills were Latino or Latina students, which is another segment the college is hoping to grow.

The college will begin hosting Spanish-centric “Explore Hills” opportunities, the first on Sept. 26.

Students have moved into the two Indian Hills Community College campuses in Ottumwa and Centerville. As of Monday, there were 404 students residing on the Ottumwa campus and 80 in Centerville.

The college is using Wapello Hall on its Ottumwa campus for COVID-19 quarantines, which they’ve used once due to disease exposure within the women’s soccer team, said Brett Monaghan, the vice president for student development and operations.

“We had 20 students in there,” Monaghan said. “We learned a lot of things when we had them in there. There was some things we hadn’t really thought about, we got some feedback from the kids when they were over there.”

Athletic competitions have resumed, as well. The Indian Hills cross-country teams and men’s golf teams competed on the road over the weekend, he said.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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