This archived article was written by: USU Eastern Eagle staff
The two rural community colleges, Snow College in Ephraim and USU Eastern in Price, have similarities and differences, even though both schools are essentially the same distance from major population areas along the Wasatch Front.
The city of Price has just under 9,000 residents, the city of Ephraim has 4,500. In 1981, Snow and USU Eastern had almost identical enrollment figures and throughout the 1980s both colleges grew in size until about 1997. It was then that USU Eastern began to loose students while Snow continued to grow. Today, Snow has nearly twice the enrollment that USU Eastern has. This semester, statistics from the Utah System of Higher Education show Snow with 4,465 total headcount while USU Eastern’s enrollment has dropped to 2,323.
USU Eastern has experienced the largest decline in students coming from Carbon and Emery counties, which are the college’s primary service region. In 2000, students from Carbon and Emery counties made up 60% of USU Eastern’s enrollment, but in 2009 only 47% of Eastern student came from these counties. Enrollments from San Juan County, which is also part of USU Eastern’s service region have increased in recent years. The Blanding campus accounts for more than 30% of USU Eastern’s total enrollment, up from 25% in 2008.
USHE data indicates that fewer Carbon and Emery county residents are attending college. In 1999, students from Carbon County made up 1.19% of the total enrollment in the state’s nine public institutions. Today that percentage has dropped to 0.84. In 2010 Carbon County had 1,114 students attending one of the USHE institutions. Most attended USU Eastern, but 326 chose to attend other institutions, such as USU in Logan, the University of Utah, Southern Utah University, and even Snow College.
One difference between Snow College and USU Eastern has been the ability of the Ephraim school to attract students from the populous counties along the Wasatch Front. Utah County, named the fastest growing county in Utah two years ago, sent nearly 500 students to Snow College while USU Eastern attracted just under 100. In 1997, USU Eastern had 133 students from Salt Lake County; in 2009 there were 99 students.
In contrast to Snow College, USU Eastern has not been able to attract a growing number of students from the Wasatch Front. This, combined with dropping enrollment from Eastern’s main service counties, Carbon and Emery, have resulted in the different enrollment figures for the two institutions. Recent changes in the student services division at USU Eastern are intended to address the challenges of reversing these enrollment trends. Statistical information came from USHE Data Book.
After reviewing this data, I can see we have a lot of work to do in the next few years to reverse this trend. I am confident that we as a college can take on this challenge, make the changes needed and increase enrollment, said Alex Herzog, associate vice chancellor of student services