Enrollment shows more people choosing community college - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/21/09

Enrollment shows more people choosing community college

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By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Across the nation and here at home, more people are choosing community college to further their education. In Levelland, South Plains College hit record enrollment this semester, but they're not alone. Community colleges in Snyder and Clovis, NM have also seen increased enrollment.

"This fall our enrollment reached just over 10,000 students, and that's a new milestone for South Plains College, and we're excited about that," SPC President Dr. Kelvin Sharp said. He says the economy plays a major roll in the enrollment increase. "There for a while a student could get out of high school and find a good job that paid well. Right now, the economy doesn't have those jobs out there, so we're here to help students further their education, get some training, and then get back into the workforce," Sharp said.

Larry Hess, director of Lubbock ISD's Office of Guidance and Counseling agrees. He says many of today's occupations require high skill sets. "A high school diploma is not what it was in the old days in terms of the kind of jobs that you can get, and so we want continued education and community colleges like South Plains College fill a real gap," Hess said.

SPC is not alone. Enrollment is also up at Western Texas College in Snyder. In March, they were recognized as the fastest growing community college in Texas. The numbers are also up at Clovis Community College in New Mexico, and Hess says the trend expands beyond our region. "Locally, statewide, and nationwide, from what I'm reading, enrollment in community colleges has risen," Hess said.

With SPC housing at capacity and parking lots full, we asked Sharp if he thinks they'll stay above 10,000 students in the future. "We hope that it will be; a lot of it, I think, will depend on the economy," Sharp said.

Another draw to community colleges are affordability. Sharp tells us during the past five years, SPC has only raised tuition once.

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