DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Richland Community College is experiencing the largest fall enrollment after nearly four years.

According to ICCB, Illinois' community colleges and state universities experienced a decline in enrollment of nearly 26 percent from 2009 to fall of 2018.

"It is a national trend. When you look at the state of Illinois and you look at the budget impasse. It just impacted our public high ratings at a different level," said Juanita Morris, Director of Institutional Effectiveness.

However, RCC has gone up in enrollment with a 14 percent increase in headcount and 75 percent increase in credit hour production. Part of that big increase has a lot to do with the programs and coaching efforts being brought to the college overall.

"There really are two aspects to enrollment. One is getting new students in the door and the second is to keep those. We've done that through both technology and a coaching model," said Cristobal Valdez, President of RCC.

Coaches get the opportunity to be much more interactive with students.

"It's helped students stay in classes and dig for success," said Valdez.

This also gives them a chance to become more culturally aware.

"With any new leadership, there's some culture things that you have to address and the university is working toward that. Part of it is how do we best serve the needs of our students," said Morris.

Additionally, RCC has also been focusing on workforce and economic need.

"New programs have been important for us. With all this agriculture that happens it's incredible. We will be launching a cyber security program this fall and last year we launched a medical assistant program. All the hospitals are asking for those type of people," said Valdez.

Overall, the goal is to improve the culture, grow enrollment and develop fiscal sustainability."

"We've met all of those in two years. RCC is becoming a service to the community," said Valdez.

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