After seven boom years, community college enrollment growth is slowing, writes Victor M. H. Borden, a Indiana University professor of educational leadership and policy studies, in Community College Week. Full-time student enrollment declined by 6 percent in the past year, while part-time enrollment increased by .5 percent.
. . . full-time enrollments had been growing at a faster rate than part-time enrollments between 2008 and 2010, that is, during the most difficult economic years. The more recent decline, as well as the even larger decline in enrollments among the even more vocationally focused for-profit sector, may be a sign of slightly better economic conditions this past year.
Community colleges have been under heavy pressure to meet increasing demand, Borden writes. That pressure could ease. However, some worry that the enrollment decline will slow the Obama administration’s campaign to “increase the number of adults with college degrees and provide businesses with skilled workers.”
Chandler-Gilbert Community College, located southeast of Phoenix, for example, has known nothing but growth since it first opened its doors in 1987 and this year tops Community College Week’s list of fastest-growing community colleges with enrollments of more than 10,000 students. According to a CCWeek analysis, the number of degree-seeking students at Chandler-Gilbert CC jumped by 14.1 percent between 2010 and 2011.
Across the country, Wake Technical Community College, near Raleigh, N.C., ranks second among large colleges with an enrollment increase of 12.2 percent. In 2012, Wake Tech surpassed 20,000 in enrollment for the first time.
. . . On Election Day, voters in Wake County approved $200 million in bonds to expand the college, which currently has a waiting list of 5,400 students unable to get into desired classes.
Both colleges are located in areas with rapidly growing populations.