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Spring term enrollment grows by more than 7 percent

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Portland Community College’s enrollment growth for spring term grew by more than 7 percent, marking the 15th consecutive term the college has seen an increase.

Total headcount increased by 7.3 percent while full-time credit enrollment (FTE) gained 7.4 percent versus this time a year ago. This spring, PCC has 44,398 students taking classes, up by 3,034 from spring term of 2010 while FTE surged by 638 to 9,284. The official enrollment statistics are released during the fourth week of the term. FTE is the total number of full- and part-time students added up to calculate one full-time student.

During the first week of classes, PCC staff are out in full force to help guide students to the services and resources they need.

The big surge came through the college’s PAVTEC Program and its dual credit enrollment. These are students who take college credit classes through PCC and attend classes at their high school. This area of enrollment has almost quadrupled in one year, from 107 FTE to 427.

“Interest is growing as schools find out what the benefits are,” said Karen Jones, PAVTEC coordinator. “It’s a win-win for the students, school and the college. The biggest benefit is for the students to get a jump start on college careers while still in high school.”

According to Jones, PCC ranks fourth in state in the number of students who take advantage of dual credit and the college has the largest student population eligible to gain these credits. So, there’s still plenty of room to grow. Jones said the biggest reason for much of the recent growth could be traced back to a 2009 PCC board action, in which members voted to do away with the dual credit fee system and make participation by high school students free.

Today, PCC’s dual credit program consists of 19 school districts, 50 high schools, 172 instructors, 228 articulation agreements and 44 PCC programs.

Another big part of the enrollment growth is the economy. Many people are using the community college to retrain, gain additional skills or earn degrees or certificates that allow them to slide into a career. PCC is using its share of a regional three-year, $2 million Department of Labor grant to steer students toward training in science-related fields.

The PCC Small Business Development Center, which grew by more than 245 percent this spring, served more than 900 clients last year. In 2009, it helped small business owners create 167 new jobs and retain 129 other positions through counseling and classes of small business owners. The college’s Workforce Network continues to exceed job placement goals in the Steps to Success Welfare to Work Program. In December 2010, 213 people found employment and in January of this year, 177 others found jobs.

Students at the Rock Creek Campus wait for their name to be called to talk to an advisor on the first day of school.

But how PCC is able to fund the services for these areas and its core credit student body is changing. In the 2007-09 biennium budget, state funding made up 44 percent of the college’s general fund revenue. In the proposed 2011-13 budget, state funding is projected to make up 35 percent.

But PCC District President Preston Pulliams said that the college has worked hard to make sure the impact of any budget decision is minimal on students.

“The budget efficiencies implemented district-wide have effectively reduced the need for even higher tuition increases,” he said.

By campus, here is how spring term enrollment has unfolded across the district:

Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road) – Credit students increased by 4.5 percent and total headcount by 5.7 percent.

Cascade Campus (705 N. Killingsworth St.) – It grew by 2.2 percent in FTE and 3.5 percent in overall headcount.

Southeast Center (2305 S.E. 82nd and Division) – The center’s core enrollment increase by 5.4 percent.

Sylvania Campus (12000 S.W. 49th Ave.) – It experienced a 4.1-percent increase in total student enrollment and 3.8 percent growth in its FTE.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »