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Community College Enrollment Is Up

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By Garrett Browne

As summertime approaches many high school students will be ending their time in high school, and for some it’s a time to finalize future education plans. While four-year traditional schools still rank highest in enrollment, Virginia is seeing a sharp increase in enrollment in two-year community colleges.

Virginia Community Colleges are reporting an enrollment class of 281,243; that’s up 7.2 percent from the previous year.

"People are starting to see the real value of community colleges, they see us more as a work force and career oriented development place," says Linda Schulte, director of public relations for Maryland Council for Community Colleges. "We are developing curriculum along with employers to get students employed right away."

Maryland community colleges have seen a steady rise over the past few years, with an 11.7 percent jump in full-time enrollment between fall 2008 and fall 2009. Of the total 53,975 full-time students, 18,151 were new enrollments. This compared to only 16,418 new enrollments in 2008.

Overall Maryland has seen a 16 percent increase in two-year college enrollment since 2008.

The price of tuition for a four-year education has been increasing steadily since 2000, which may be one of the contributing factors in the rise of two-year college enrollment.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the price of two-year colleges are about half the price of their four-year counterparts.

President Barack Obama has made the support and growth of community colleges a primary goal in the recovery of America’s economy.

"In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience" says Obama.

Two billion dollars in funding for two--year post--secondary institutions has been set aside in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.

The goal of the funding is to keep Americans in these schools so they can develop new skills to re-enter the job market.

The enrollment for two-year colleges nationwide is set to rise from 6.8 Million in 2007 to and estimated 8 million by 2010.

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