Friday, October 2, 2009

Enrollment Surge Continues at
York County Community College

The upward enrollment trend continues at York County Community College (YCCC) as over 1,400 students, an increase of 32% from Sept. 2008, fill the classrooms for the Fall 2009 semester. This marks the fourth consecutive year that YCCC has experienced an increase in both full and part-time enrollment. The incoming class of first year, transfer and returning students is the largest ever in the college’s fifteen year history. The largest gains are seen in total new applications, which increased from 749 to 1,021.
“The dramatic admissions growth can be attributed to a variety of circumstances,” said Fred Quistgard, Director of Admissions. “A poor economy influenced a broad spectrum of applicants to choose YCCC. Traditional students who couldn’t afford private 4-year colleges, laid-off workers who need re-training and transfer students burdened with high tuition bills all saw the economic and educational benefits of a YCCC education.”
YCCC, which is the youngest of Maine’s seven community colleges, showed application growth in all majors including Criminal Justice, the newest degree program. “The addition of a new and enthusiastic department chair undoubtedly influenced the application growth in that major,” Quistgard explained. Tracey Cornell, former crime analyst with the Portland Police Department, accepted that position in May 2009.
YCCC President Charles Lyons attributes the bursting enrollment to “families having tough conversations regarding the financial realities of higher education; while at the same time, believing in the quality education we offer at an affordable cost.” The in-state credit hour tuition at YCCC is $84.
In reporting preliminary 2009 enrollment numbers, MCCS President John Fitzsimmons noted that degree seeking enrollment is up by 1,553 students over last fall and nearly 6,300 students since the seven institutions made the transition from technical to community colleges in 2003.The number of students entering directly from high school has also continued to grow, up 87% in seven years and 10% this year alone (to 2,337).
The steady growth in enrollment does put additional strain on the colleges’ resources, however. “At one point this summer, we were nearly ‘sold out’ of seats. Fortunately, it was early enough that Academic Affairs responded and added additional sections, but finding the classroom and lab space was challenging,” advised Corinne Kowpak, Dean of Students. The leadership of the single-building college campus is currently looking into the possibility of erecting a second building to help ease the space crunch.
York County Community College, established in 1994, is one of seven community colleges in the Maine Community College System. The college enrolls over 1,400 students in associate degrees and transfer programs and over 1,600 individuals in non-credit continuing education and professional development areas.