College of DuPage Facing Enrollment Decline

Karla Villegas Pineda, News Correspondent

The College of DuPage has historically been the largest community college in the state. However, in recent years, enrollment has been on the decline. This spring term has seen a 5% decrease compared to spring 2018.  

In a recent interview with WBEZ FM’s “Morning Shift” radio program, Interim COD President Brian Caputo spoke about this decline.


“In Illinois, over the last 10 years, the decline has been about 21 percent. For COD, we’ve fared […] significantly better.” Said Caputo.

Caputo  mentioned a few factors that are impacting COD’s lowered enrollment numbers.

“For community colleges, when you see the economy doing well, typically there’s less enrollment.” He stated. He also added, “The [amount of] eligible high school students, at least in our area, is declining.”

However, Caputo also noted some key programs offered at COD that will hopefully keep population numbers up, such as Guided Pathways.

“[The program] tries to get students into an institution in an efficient matter, that is without getting caught up in a lot of developmental courses,” said Caputo.


The Guided Pathway program is evident in COD’s 3+1 and 2+2 transfer programs.

In addition to Guided Pathways, the college combats low enrollment by heavily advertising its low tuition cost (in comparison to a four-year university), small classes sizes and absence of graduate students teaching in place of degree-holding professors.

Mark Curtis-Chavez, provost of COD, hopes enrollment will see a reverse effect as early as next spring with the implementation of a Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) council. The council is developed in order to pinpoint the factors lowering enrollment, as well as putting together a plan to combat said factors and deciding the college’s “optimal enrollment goal.”

“There is a limit to what we can do, but we know it’s higher than what we’re at currently,” said Curtis-Chavez. “We want all the different constituencies of the college to have a voice in what that ultimate [enrollment] number is.”