Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


King, Stephanie B.

Committee Member

Stumpf, Arthur D.

Committee Member

Davis, James E.

Committee Member

Wiseman, William M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Leadership and Foundations

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Leadership and Foundations


The purpose of this study is to determine how economic factors correlate with and have an effect on enrollment at community colleges and provide benchmark enrollment strategies for use by community colleges in the future. A cluster sampling of 22 branch campus locations at 9 community colleges in Mississippi and their respective counties was selected. The independent variables used were median household income, percentage of persons below the poverty level, and unemployment rates. A statistical correlation and regression was conducted to determine if economic factors (median household income, percentage of persons below the poverty level, and unemployment by county) had any correlation or an effect on the decrease or increase in enrollment at the respective community college campus. The correlation and statistical effect based on the regression model used demonstrated that median household income and poverty levels had the strongest correlation and the most statistically significant effect on community college enrollment in Mississippi. Unemployment had a very weak correlation and no statistically significant effect on the sample for community college enrollment for Mississippi during this period. There were some exceptions in which certain community college campuses and their respective county unemployment rates had a very high effect on enrollment for that specific campus and that specific period. There were 6 phone interviews conducted following the analysis of the datasets to determine any internal or external causes to enrollment decreases and increases during this period. 4 of the 6 colleges responded. Of the colleges that responded, 2 saw increases and 2 saw decreases. The predominant enrollment factor denoted by the interviewee was retention and cohesive interdepartmental focus toward recruitment, which resulted in increased enrollment. Of the colleges that saw decreases and were interviewed, it was noted that enrollment personnel were not prepared for the enrollment decrease and could have been. Target markets with higher income and lower poverty levels perform better during harsh periods of challenge for enrollment at community colleges. Increased retention and interdepartmental cohesion produces better preparation for challenging periods of declining enrollment.



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