By Bethaney Lee
As the overall enrollment at City College stabilizes, a number of departments on campus are still feeling the ill effects of low enrollment numbers that have affected the school for the past few years.
The college administration’s decision to cut classes with low enrollment has led many faculty members to take class promotion into their own hands. This is largely the case for staff from the Broadcasting and Media Arts Department (BEMA).
Class cuts in BEMA have prompted Department Chair Sheila McFarland and other department instructors to create an emergency WordPress page for brainstorming course promotion strategies.
“This semester, two classes got cut due to low enrollment: one section of BCST 119: Digital Media Skills and BCST 115: Announcing and Performance,” McFarland said. “So far we are squeaking by, but pretty soon so many classes will be cut that we will start to have even worse dwindling enrollment. It will become a downward spiral.”
There are approximately 225 students currently enrolled across BEMA’s 19 courses this fall. As a result, the department averages fewer than 12 students per course.
“We’ve tried many things to boost enrollment,” McFarland said. “We attend all of the enrollment events on campus and at BART. We attended the Mission Campus intro event and have helped distribute materials around the city.”
McFarland mentioned reaching out through visual and social media as well.
“We worked with the graphics students in Emerge Studios to create a brochure and we make our own brochures every semester to try to get the word out about our classes,” McFarland continued. “Instructors have made videos and placed them on YouTube and Facebook. It has helped some, but we still have visibility problems—people don’t know we exist.”
While the department program may lack recognition, it no longer lacks funding after securing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Perkins grant this last year.
“We received a CTE Enhancement Fund grant to create a game sound class and obtain the necessary components to be able to teach that type of advanced class in sound,” BEMA instructor Dana Labrecque said. “We are offering that class for the first time as a brand new class, and it is full.”
The few students of BEMA share a wealth of industry standard equipment purchased with the CTE grant, including two new surround sound systems, 25 seats of Pro Tools digital audio software, MIDI keyboards and a plethora of headphones.
“Our students get hands-on equipment immediately. Students can sign in and work on their own,” McFarland said. “Many schools nearby do not allow students alone on their multitrack consoles until after several semesters. Our students get experience right away.”
Overhauled last year, BEMA offers students seven certificate programs. The program is aware of what the average student interested in the field wants to learn.
“(They) are not looking to take a math or English class, but are there to gain skills in the industry and might not otherwise be in college if it weren’t for what we offer,” McFarland said.