Crowder College has led Missouri community colleges in enrollment growth over the last three years. The Cassville Campus has contributed to that growth with a 50 percent increase in total students.
From fall of 2007 to fall of 2010, Crowder College recorded a 52.4 percent increase in headcount and a 45.5 percent increase in full-time equivalent enrollment. By comparison, the state community college sector grew by 14.9 percent in headcount and 16.2 percent in full-time equivalent over the three-year period.
In addition to seeing a 50 percent increase in headcount at the Cassville Campus, the total number of credit hours completed by students at the local campus has increased 82 percent over the last three years.
"There are several things that have helped us increase enrollment," said Angela Seymour, Crowder College Cassville Campus director. "Our new campus and the addition of the nursing program, the addictions counseling program and the CNA and EMT classes have drawn more students.
"Plus, over the last three years, the increase in enrollment has driven further increases in enrollment by allowing us to add classes giving students more variety and options," said Seymour.
According to Seymour, a troubled economy also leads more individuals to choose to return to college and further their education.
"Unfortunately, when the economy is not doing well, people go back to school," said Seymour. "I think more people are beginning to realize that Crowder College offers a great, quality education. People are figuring out that it is a good choice. It is economical, and its location makes it accessible."
Alan Marble, Crowder College president, also gives credit to the community college's faculty and staff and the college's low-cost tuition.
"While the economic slowdown undoubtedly contributed to the rapid enrollment growth, I believe it is equally important to recognize the impact of a dedicated and caring faculty coupled with an affordable tuition and fee structure," said Marble. "We strive to provide our students with a very high quality education at a reasonable cost, and I think these enrollment totals reflect the value that students have discovered in that approach."
Even though administrators value the college's ability to offer a quality education at a reduced cost, offering a low-cost education comes with its share of challenges, said Seymour.
"State funding continues to decrease and Crowder College hasn't raised tuition for three years," said Seymour. "It is difficult to serve more students with less funding, but even though it is tough, the increase in enrollment is very exciting.
"This tells us we must be doing something right," said Seymour. "We are obviously meeting a need, which is a good feeling. We are offering something that people want, need and appreciate, and it is wonderful to know that we are making it available here in Cassville."