BEND, Ore. ― Central Oregon Community College is trying new marketing strategies and reducing rates to draw more students to a new residence hall that remains about one-third empty.
College officials had high hopes for the $21 million, 330-bed hall. But the building opened in September only 76 percent full and is now down to 64 percent of capacity, The Bend Bulletin reported.
Those numbers do not include 10 beds set aside for resident advisers, which are full.
The new facility was meant to help attract more students from outside Central Oregon and boost enrollment. A consultant hired by the college had previously predicted an annual occupancy rate of 98 percent.
“All the stars and moons aligned to say we should have been full,” Alicia Moore, COCC dean of student and enrollment services told The Bulletin. “For whatever reason ― it’s incredibly challenging to identify ― we didn’t hit those occupancy goals.”
Only four community colleges in Oregon have on-campus housing.
The college is now trying new marketing strategies to reach its target audience of new, full-time, out-of-district students. The students are typically from rural and suburban areas, including pockets in Eastern Washington, Northern California and Southwest Idaho near Boise.
Next month the college will run ads on Facebook and Pandora to reach these students and their parents.
On Wednesday, the college’s board of directors approved lower rates for next year to bring in more students.
Ron Paradis, director of college relations, said recruiting local students will remain the college’s focus. Up to a quarter of local high school graduates go to the community college each year.
But “to increase enrollment overall we’re looking to increase enrollment out of the area,” he added.
Grant McDonald, a freshman from West Linn who wanted to live in the dorm to meet more people, said his roommate dropped out after fall term.
“It definitely feels like it’s empty. I never see anyone here,” he said, adding that next year he wants to live off campus.