SANFORD — Central Carolina Community College set another spring semester enrollment record as more than 5,000 students signed up for curriculum classes.
Curriculum class enrollment as of Feb. 24 was 5,008, almost 6 percent more than the 4,722 who enrolled in spring 2009, which was itself a record.
Several factors are pushing the numbers up, according to Central Carolina President Bud Marchant. The continuing unemployment from the recession is sending laid-off workers back to college to upgrade their job skills or learn new ones that are in more demand in the job market.
For people planning to attend a four-year institution, the community college offers general education and basic program requirements at a fraction of the cost. Students who complete Central Carolina’s university transfer program are guaranteed acceptance at one of the University of North Carolina System schools and enter with the rank of a junior, rather than as a freshman. Spring semester enrollment for the university transfer program is 789, compared to 740 in spring 2009, a 6 percent increase.
“People needing workforce skills and students who plan to go on to a four-year institution know they can get excellent training at reasonable cost that will enable them to enter the workforce or move on in their education,” Marchant said.
Enrollment is up in most programs, but the greatest growth is in health and sustainable agriculture. Enrollment in health programs, as a group, grew from 902 in spring 2009 to 1,093 in spring 2010, a 21 percent increase. Interest in the college’s Associate Degree Nursing program is up significantly. The number of students taking general education classes to apply to be accepted into that program increased almost 29 percent, from 238 to 334.
“There is an incredible need for health care providers due to the aging population and acuteness of illnesses,” said Rhonda Evans, CCCC’s chair of Health Occupations. “A lot of people are coming back for second career education in health fields.”
Sustainable agriculture degree and certificate enrollment showed a 68 percent increase over spring 2009.
“Interest in all areas of sustainability technologies training is on the rise,” said Lisa Chapman, vice president of Academic Affairs. “The government, companies, and individuals have not only become more aware of how we need to alter our practices, but also have actually begun to increase sustainable practices in everyday life and business.”
An increasing number of those enrolling at Central Carolina C.C. are choosing to take some or all of their classes online via distance education. The unduplicated spring enrollment for these classes is 2,814, an increase of 15 percent over spring 2009. Hybrid (a combination of online and seated sessions) class enrollment increased 43 percent, from 513 to 735. Enrollment in classes taught only online increased 7 percent, from 1,929 to 2,079.
“Distance education is such an appealing opportunity for students,” said Bianka Stumpf, CCCC director of Distance Education. “Given their many commitments to family, work, and community, students can still pursue their professional goals.”
Stumpf cited three primary reasons for the popularity of distance education: flexibility of offerings, increased comfort of students with technology, and the fact that distance education provides students with learning experiences that are both quality and engaging.
“As for our gains in hybrid course enrollment, many students see this delivery as the proverbial best of both worlds,” she said. “It offers the benefits I've cited above plus the in-person interaction with our top-notch faculty and diverse students.”
At its Feb. 10 meeting, the college’s board of trustees approved an updated Mission Statement for Central Carolina C.C. It states that the college “serves as a catalyst for personal, community, and economic development by empowering people through education and training.”
“This is what the college is all about,” Marchant said. ”We are committed to serving the residents and business workforce needs of Chatham, Harnett and Lee Counties. We appreciate their confidence in our ability to do so, as evidenced by our enrollment increase.”
For more information on programs or enrolling at Central Carolina Community College, go online to www.cccc.edu
or call the Chatham County Campus at (919) 542-6495, Harnett County Campus at (910) 814-8824, or Lee County Campus at (919) 718-7436.