City College of San Francisco has embarked upon what officials say is its most aggressive move toward raising enrollment since the school's accreditation was threatened two years ago – a $500,000, two-month-long advertising campaign.
The campaign, which began in mid-November, comes as CCSF experiences a 26 percent drop in enrollment, at least 10 percent higher than other California community colleges that are seeing an average of 8 to 15 percent declines in enrollment, said CCSF spokesman Jeff Hamilton.
“Most community colleges in California are having enrollment challenges because of the economy,” Hamilton said. “When the economy goes up, enrollment drops.”
CCSF's enrollment decline is also widely blamed – including by San Mateo Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, whose district includes CCSF – on uncertainty regarding the school's accreditation.
“[The enrollment drop] is directly attributed to the manner in which [the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges] sent out the word to give the impression that this institution is going to close,” Speier told The San Francisco Examiner on Monday.
But CCSF is aiming to curb that image with its most aggressive campaign yet. Television, radio and social media spots, as well as billboards and transit shelter ads, are sharing the school's “Standing strong, moving forward” message through Jan. 12, the first day of the spring semester and the last day students can register for classes.
“We want people to know that there's more going on [at CCSF] than just accreditation,” Hamilton said.
The campaign also targets specific groups of students, encouraging those who applied last semester but didn't register and those who are close to graduation, to sign up for classes.
Accreditation, however, will be a significant topic in January. The 79-year-old institution is expected to find out next month whether the ACCJC will grant CCSF restoration status.
Also next month, a judge will likely tentatively rule in a case between ACCJC and the City Attorney's Office, which alleged that the commission unfairly evaluated CCSF before voting to revoke the school's accreditation in 2013.