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Credit students of all ages flocking to community college

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Portland Community College’s core enrollment is continuing its rapid growth – rising by 15.4 percent versus this time a year ago.

According to the college’s fourth-week fall enrollment report (the standard week for reporting enrollment figures), the college’s total headcount increased by 7.8 percent and 15.4 percent in full-time equivalent (FTE) students year over year. The FTE numbers determines how much money PCC gets from the state’s community college funding formula. It’s the ninth consecutive term of growth.Students flocked to the Sylvania Campus and elsewhere across PCC’s district during the first day of fall classes

Total headcount for the fall is 40,566 (an increase of 2,935 from fall 2008) and 8,870 in FTE (increase of 1,183 from a year ago). The enrollment figures reflect the number of students taking classes for that specific term. These numbers cannot be added to other terms’ totals to get an overall enrollment, as many students who are enrolled throughout the year would be counted more than once. FTE is the total number of full- and part-time students added up to calculate one full-time student.

The growth of credit students has hit the college’s PAVTEC program, which offers high school students a chance to earn college credit. In 2008-09, the PCC Dual Credit program registered 2,983 students who earned 19,530 PCC credits versus just 1,870 students and 13,886 credits in 2007-08 – a surge of 59 percent in student participation. By taking classes through the program (which only costs $35 per year per student), students and their parents saved $1,262,695 dollars. Approximately 573 FTE were generated through Dual Credit. Forty-three high schools in the Portland area participate.

“It provides high school students with an early opportunity to earn college credit for advanced coursework they’ve completed while in high school,” said PCC President Preston Pulliams. “They provide an opportunity for the students to transition smoothly from high school to college, in a non-duplicative program of study. The dramatic growth in our Dual Credit Program is another example of how the community is taking advantage of PCC to lower the cost of their education in this tough economic time.”

The high school students can earn credits through university transfer or in career and technical education programs. The articulated (high school and college credit for the same class) courses are taught at the students’ schools by high school teachers and are considered to be part of a college degree or certificate program.

Each of PCC’s comprehensive campuses offers complete paths to an associate’s degree at their respective locations. Here is how they fared:

Rock Creek Campus, 17705 N.W. Springville Road

This campus in Washington County, known for diesel service repair, welding, landscape technology and biology programs, experienced the biggest growth. Credit students increased by 22.1 percent and total headcount by 24.5 percent. The Business and Humanities Division is bursting at the seams with 32.7 percent enrollment surge with its English composition classes up by 32.4 percent. Also, Rock Creek’s Hillsboro Education Center grew by 14.9 percent.

Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St.

The campus, in inner Northeast Portland, is home to the trades and industry, education, first responder, fire science and business administration programs. It swelled by 19.8 percent in FTE and 18.3 percent in overall headcount. Its Arts and Professions Division grew by 22.7 percent, including 40.6 percent in people taking Computer Applications/Office Systems courses.

Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave.

The southwest Portland campus – the largest in PCC’s 1,500-square-mile district and housing such programs as machine manufacturing technology, early childhood education, sign language interpretation and automotive technology – experienced a 13.4 percent increase in student enrollment and 13 percent growth in FTE. It’s biggest increase came in the Social Sciences Division with 15.2 percent student growth, and core writing classes at the campus shot up by 16.1 percent in credit students.

Southeast Center, 2305 S.E. 82nd and Division

The campus, which allows students to complete many of the courses toward a college transfer degree, saw its core enrollment increase by more than 19.6 percent summer term. The Southeast Center also offers Aviation Science courses, Adult Basic Education courses to help students prepare for the GED, and English for Speakers of Other Languages classes in addition to its core credit classes. Welding courses are offered at the Swan Island Training Center on Portland’s eastside to ease capacity issues at welding program’s base at the Rock Creek Campus. Both sites have long waiting lists.

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 »

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