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COC student body keeps growing

Posted: January 31, 2009 10:04 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2009 4:59 a.m.

College of the Canyons officials project the number of spring semester students could increase 9 percent to 22,860, a sign of a stagnant economy and limited enrollments at state schools.

"People return to school if they lose their jobs and they're saying ‘OK, I need to get a new job, I need some new skills,'" college spokeswoman Sue Bozman said.

Other types of students include those building skill sets to give themselves an edge over other employees.

"There's a variety of reasons, but the economy is the main reason," said Joan MacGregor, college board president.

The college remains in winter session until Feb. 7 and early estimates put winter 2009 enrollment up 32 percent from winter 2008. The spring semester begins Feb. 9. Spring 2008's numbers hit 20,973, Bozman said.

College officials expect spring enrollment numbers to change in the coming weeks as students continue to register and change classes, Bozman said.

"It changes on not a daily basis, but on a by-the-minute basis," Bozman said.

The spring semester projection comes as enrollment for fall 2008 jumped 19 percent when compared to fall 2007, which had a head count of 21,300. The college maintained steady growth over the past few years, which is in line with the state's other community colleges, Bozman said.

An estimated 2,647 students are on waiting lists for high demand classes in the spring that typically include basic, general education classes such as English, math, history and science.

"Those classes just fill up right away," Bozman said.

Class sizes are growing, although officials have yet to add more sections of classes, Bozman said.

"For winter and spring, we didn't grow the size of offerings," she said.

"We're just becoming more efficient."

Another aspect of the student population connects to impacted state schools.

"We're also seeing people because Cal State universities, UC schools are raising their fees and also reducing the numbers of students that they're going to take because they are in a budget squeeze," Bozman said.

The state budget provides no funding for enrollment growth for CSUs, intensifying a trend that began in 2005-06, in which student enrollment grows faster than state funding, a university release said. In response, CSU campuses increased class sizes when possible, and opened more course sections with temporary faculty appointments. As a result, CSU campus officials plan to slow down enrollment growth by closing the freshmen application period for fall 2009 earlier in the cycle.

"Enrollment restrictions hinder the opportunities for students from all communities to obtain a college education," CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said.

Roughly 60 percent of William S. Hart Union High School District students attend COC within two years after graduating high school, said David LeBarron, director of curriculum.

Districtwide, graduates take advantage of the college's transfer opportunities.

"You can go to COC and you can transfer to UCLA and UC Davis," LeBarron said. "That, for some students, is a more efficient way to go."


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