FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE): Fresno City College lost thousands of students during the pandemic – now the college has nearly doubled its in-person classes this year, and that is contributing to the number of registrations.

The college says they’re hitting 90% of their new student registration, and the new president of the college, Dr. Robert Pimentel, has brought on new incentives to help attract more students to campus.

“You almost missed not finding a parking spot because it was empty the whole time,” said Dr. Pimentel, standing outside the Old Administration Building, helping new students get to their new classes.

Dr. Pimentel is in just his first month as the new president of the college. One of the first things on his to-do list is to bring student registration up to pre-pandemic levels.

“In 2019 we lost a lot of students, a lot of students. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been trying to regain our momentum, and try to get back to re-enrolling students,” he said.

In 2020, the campus lost between 2,000 and 3,000 incoming freshmen due to campus restrictions and fears about COVID. Devastating numbers that repeated in 2021.

“We just don’t know what’s happening, we don’t know how to get our students back,” said Dr. Pimentel.

One way the college is trying to bring more students back is by making the college experience cheaper. Textbook vouchers up to $250 if you’re taking 12 units or more, and a $100 voucher if you’re registered for under 12 units. Parking is now free for students all year round.

“That makes a great impact because as a student, I’m a working student, so I have to buy all my gas and house necessities,” said Sage Ramirez.

Monday was Ramirez’s first day of college, and the financial help on top of bringing classes back to in-person is the change she needed to start her college career.

“Online I cannot pay attention online. I’m so glad these in-person classes are back because it makes a big difference for people like me that cannot focus on just at-home laptops,” she said.

63% of classes are now in person at Fresno City College, a major reversal from last year. Still, the college is focused on bringing more students to campus after a tough two years.

“We are not doing very well bringing them here, recruitment outreach because of COVID issues and many other barriers they may experience, but we are trying to do what we can to make sure they stay on campus and do what they can to get to that finish line,” said Dr. Pimentel.

Pimentel stressed the college is struggling to register more male students on campus, specifically those of Hispanic or African American descent. The college offers mentorship programs for a majority of its majors.