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Enrollment Up For Third Straight Year for Community Colleges

By Daniel Cherry | Published 15 Aug 2011 07:17pm | comments

Mississippi's largest community college is reporting an increase in enrollment for the third straight year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the additional students will continue to stretch resources thin for 2 year colleges.

Enrollment at Hinds Community College has increased by 30 percent over the past three years. Many of those are students like Eddie Garfield. He's 41, and enrolled in the electrical technology program after losing the job he held at Delphi for 18 years.

"The way technology is and it's advancement towards more digital and computer operated systems. You have to be up on that level. You can't work in the workforce if you're not able to, so it's better to be prepared so when you get out there you have the skills to work at the job."

Since the recession hit Mississippi, community colleges have noted the increase in students. Until now they've been mainly full time students, but Katheryn Cole, Director of Enrollment Services at Hinds says they're seeing an increase in working people.

"People are still learning job skills to make them more marketable and more competitive in the job market so they're still working and going to school part time to gain those job credentials."

Community Colleges are attractive because they're usually close to home and on average 40 percent less expensive than a 4 year institution. Dr. Eric Clark is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board. He says that's beginning to put a strain on schools.

"It's a mixed blessing. We're glad that enrollment has boomed because that means we're making more people's lives better, but it's certainly been a challenge because state appropriations have not been able to keep up with enrollment growth."

With the economy pushing more non-traditional students back into the classroom, officials at Hinds Community College say the average age of their students is 26 years old.





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