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PCC enrollment growth: Twelve straight terms and counting
Photos and Story by Gina Whitehill-Baziuk
The good news is that enrollment at Portland Community College has grown for the 12th straight term, underscoring its importance in getting people educated, trained and back to work in a tough economy.
Enrollment has increased by 18.4 percent in total full-time equivalent students and 7.8 percent in total head count for summer term 2010.
The bad news is that some of the college’s programs don’t want more students.
For example, PCC’s health professions programs, which are restricted by a set number of open seats, have been overwhelmed with student interest. With limited spots available, health professions have had to get creative in order to choose from too many applicants for too few open seats. For example, the Dental Assisting Program received 140 applications for just 45 spots for fall term enrollment. This is a record number of applications in the last several years, up from 60 applications at this same time in 2009. In addition, the Nursing Program received approximately 800 applicants for only 100 available seats and Medical Imaging got 140 student applicants for 34 spots.
“We certainly do not need more applicants,” said John Saito, division dean of health Professions, Early Childhood Education and PE at the Sylvania Campus. “We’re filled to the rafters and are trying our absolute best to accommodate the number of applicants. When the Dental Department receives considerably more applications than 45, selection is conducted by lottery. This includes only students who have completed the prerequisites by the end of the previous winter term.”
The health professions programming at the Rock Creek Campus is still in its infancy as the bond program, passed by area voters in the 2008 November election, spurs construction of new space for health program expansion. But the new Occupational Therapy Assistant Program begins this fall and PCC already received plenty of interest in filling its half dozen slots.
“The application deadline was a few weeks ago and we got a very good response,” said Karen Sanders, division dean of Social Science, Health Education, PE and College Preparation at the Rock Creek Campus. “This is a program done in collaboration with several other community colleges and the 24 slots are shared by six different schools. PCC has had no problem in filling its allocated spaces.”
Sanders called her enrollment growth in the Health Education Program, “astounding.” Spring term was up 48 percent over spring 2009 and this summer the program is up 66.5 percent.
“We expect this growth to continue as we continue to add both online and face-to-face sections to meet the large demand,” Sanders added.
The Cascade Campus Allied Health Division has experienced an increase of about 30 percent in applications from last year. In Medical Laboratory Technology, the program received 92 applicants for 40 slots; Medical Assisting, which has 24 slots available at Cascade and at the Willow Creek Center, had 82 applicants; Health Information Management received 84 applications for 35 slots; and the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Program, which is on a rolling admission each term, got 88 applicants this year, which is an increase of 35 percent. It has now exceeded its capacity and will result in restricted admissions for next year.
By campus, here is how summer term enrollment has unfolded across the district:
This campus in Washington County, known for diesel service repair, welding, landscape technology and biology programs, experienced the biggest growth. Credit students increased by 26.9 percent and total headcount by 25.9 percent versus summer term of 2009.
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 26 percent in FTE and 19.9 percent in overall headcount.
The center, which allows students to complete many of the courses toward a college transfer degree, saw its core enrollment increase by almost 34 percent. 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.
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 18.1 percent increase in student enrollment and 17.4 percent growth in FTE.