Although a weak economy often inspires individuals to focus on education, the Crowder College Cassville Center's recent increase in enrollment is probably more closely related to the local campus's location and new programs, said Director Angela Seymour.
"When the economy is not doing as well people go back to school," said Seymour, "but at the Cassville campus, we have seen an increase in enrollment every year over the last 10 years."
On Crowder College's official count day, which was Feb. 17, 111 full-time students and 228 part-time students were enrolled at the Cassville Center.
According to Seymour, the total number of students enrolled at the Cassville campus increased over 23 percent this year. The total number of hours that students are enrolled in also increased by over 17 percent.
"We have more day enrollment this year," said Seymour. "This trend has been changing slowly over the last few years, and we have had a rise in full-time students.
"Over the last several years we have had around 200 part-time students," said Seymour. "This year we saw a slight increase in the number of part-time students, but most of our growth has been in full-time students. I think this is partly because we have more classes during the day to serve full-time students."
The recent increase in enrollment is also likely related to the college's plans to start a nursing program at the local campus next year. Many students have enrolled in prerequisite courses for that program, said Seymour.
"We have also added an addiction counseling program," said Seymour. "This is adding more opportunities for students."
In the past, Seymour has noticed an increase in enrollment each time the college initiates a new program or expands. The college recorded a 35 percent increase in enrollment the year that the new science lab was added.
"Every time we add another program or resource and give the students more access and options with classes we see a jump in enrollment," said Seymour. "I can't wait to see what the new building is going to do to our numbers."
Recent reports do not reflect an overall increase in the number of credit hours each student is enrolled in, but the Cassville Center estimates that the average student completes eight credit hours at the local campus each semester. That is just one credit hour less than the average recorded throughout all of the Crowder College campuses.
"Community colleges have seen growth in the last several years," said Seymour. "They are located all over the place. You can go 20 to 25 miles from anywhere and find a community college or an extension center. I think the growth is related to location, access and price."
Students can complete two-year degrees in addictions counseling, accounting, business administration, general studies, teaching or psychology at the local campus. The nursing program will be implemented next year.
The Cassville Center and Crowder College Campus in Neosho also offer on-line programs to help students progress toward a bachelor's degree. The college works with Missouri State University to give students the opportunity to complete four-year degrees in agriculture, business administration and elementary education.
Crowder College recorded its 2009 spring semester total enrollment at 3,312 students, which is a 11.82 percent increase over last year.
"We are blessed with an outstanding faculty and staff, and they continue to attract outstanding students," said Dr. Alan Marble, Crowder College president. "We enjoy a very proud and energetic student body, and we are dedicated to providing them with the tools and support they need to lead enriched, successful and ultimately significant lives."
Crowder College's enrollment has climbed steadily since 2000. This year, the college recorded a 11.07 percent increase in the total number of credit hours in which students are enrolled.