JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Unlike the national and state trends, enrollment is up at Jones County Junior College.
The total enrollment for 2013 is 4,706. That's an increase of 170 students since last school year.
"Our strategies are working, even when the national trends are in the negative," says JCJC President Dr. Jessie Smith.
Smith says more students are attending JCJC for several reasons.
"Price is going to be important," says Smith. "Small class sizes are going to be important. Proximity to home, that's going to be really big."
But some students are enrolling at JCJC based on a specific area of study.
The engineering program at Jones has grown by 70 students in the past year.
"Engineering as a career by itself is one of the few careers that has not been adversely affected by the economy," says JCJC professor Mary Boleware.
JCJC has a partnership with the engineering school at Mississippi State University, which puts students an extra step ahead of others.
"We have an excellent relationship with them [MSU]," says Boleware. "They recruit our students very heavily. Our students do very well when they transfer to State- come out on top- when compared with students that even start out at Mississippi State."
Even though the junior college has seen an increase in enrollment this school year, their numbers are actually down from just three years ago. In 2010, JCJC hit a peak enrollment of 5,716 students. While this would seem like a financial burden, Smith says the college was prepared.
"When you're in a down, you have to plan ahead," says Smith. "We planned ahead for this three or four years ago when we saw this coming, so we set aside our reserves."
He says the three sources of revenue are tuition, county revenue and state revenue, pointing out that a dip in tuition revenue is only one-third of what is depended on.
"That's why you use a conservative budget to do those things," says Smith. And so here we are. It's stabilizing, and things are looking very good."
Smith also says JCJC is a good place to start for continuing an education.
"Jones has great relationships with the eight universities," says Smith. "Your first two years here, you're going to transition right into the universities without any problems."
Smith says the focus will now be geared towards non-traditional students as well as retaining the students currently enrolled.