Foreign language department sees decrease in enrollment

Scott Barnes

Staff Writer

Another academic year is underway here at Parkland and the halls are busy with students making their way from one class to another. Campus may seem like a crowded place to the students who have to wait in line at the bookstore or in the cafeteria, and it is. In fact, overall enrollment rates are up compared to this same time last year.

According to the Institutional Research and Accountability Department, the total number of credit students enrolled on the first day of class for Fall 2014 was 7,680 compared to 7,701 on the first day of classes this semester. These numbers will likely be revised as the semester progresses and accelerated courses are taken into account, but they suggest that the student body here at Parkland is growing.

Despite a slight rise in the number of students attending classes there is one department that has seen a decrease in enrollment rates. The number of students registering for foreign language courses has lowered significantly over the past few years. In fact, only 3.2 percent of the student body registered for foreign language courses for the 2014/2015 school year compared to 7.1 percent back in 2005.

There are many possible reasons as to why enrollment rates in foreign language courses are dropping. One such reason may be that universities are changing their requirements.

“What we’ve heard from counseling and advising is that the U of I has changed their admissions requirements for some programs,” said Wendy Patriquin, the humanities interim department chair at Parkland College. “They don’t require foreign language as an admissions requirement and, for some programs, a graduation requirement.”

Many students who attend classes at Parkland hope to transfer to a four year institution. Parkland College works closely with the University of Illinois and the courses offered here reflect that relationship. Parkland College’s Director of Counseling and Advising John Sheahan explained the recent changes.

“There had been an entrance requirement in every program to get into the University of Illinois,” Sheahan said. “What U of I did several years ago, I can’t tell you the exact number, is they changed things radically from making it an entrance requirement to taking it off for most of their colleges.”

Sheahan explained counseling and advising still recommends students enroll in foreign language courses but some students may choose not to because it is no longer required.

Patriquin suggested the costs associated with college may be another reason why students aren’t enrolling in courses that they don’t necessarily have to take.

“You know people aren’t going to take electives just for fun anymore because of the cost of rising tuition rates,” Patriquin added. “People want to get in, they want to get their degree or credential or whatever and move on.”

Patriquin explained some classes had to be canceled because of low enrollment. In return, that can have an impact on students who are required to take a foreign language class.

Zoe Gibson has a degree and is attending Parkland to knock out some of her general education requirements in order to further her education. She said she has had to deal with cancelled classes, which can be frustrating. “Every semester there’s always a class that cancels,” Gibson said. “This is the first time where they’ve canceled class and haven’t sent any sort of notification at all.”

According to the Director of Enrollment Services Tim Wendt, students have the option to use the Exception to OTR (On-Time Registration) process to request the ability to enroll in another class. He explained that these exceptions are allowed up until the first day a class meets. Students who still need to register for courses can visit the Counseling and Advising Center in room U276 for any assistance they might need.