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Published: Thursday, 6/11/2009

Area college enrollments for summer are soaring

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

College students aren t taking the summer off this year.

Enrollment is swelling in this economic climate, most noticeably at area community colleges.

Northwest State Community College and Terra Community College have more than 30 percent increases in student head counts.

Owens Community College reports that its 2009 summer enrollment is the highest it s been in the last 10 years and is on track to be the highest ever when official numbers are tallied next week.

A number of students flocking to Terra are from four-year institutions who are home in the Fremont area for the summer, said Mary McCue, the college s director of marketing, public relations, and enrollment services.

The college is counting 878 students so far enrolled for classes that start Monday, compared with 660 last summer.

They re not finding summer jobs, so it s far more economical and feasible to enroll at Terra for summer classes and transfer those back to their home school, Ms. McCue said.

Paul Unger, executive vice president and provost at Owens, said the enrollment increase there also probably is students who otherwise might do something else in the summer.

Enrollment is up nearly 18 percent to about 8,300 this year at both its Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses, but the college is still waiting for the increase in direct response to the recession.

We re not really attributing this to the economy yet because we don t think we ve seen the rush of individuals coming here just yet. We think we ll be seeing that in the fall, Mr. Unger said.

Northwest State s 32.5 percent summer enrollment jump is being credited to more people searching for new skills and those who want to take advantage of the Archbold institution s recent decision to drop tuition costs nearly 4 percent.

Lourdes College in Sylvania topped 1,000 students for the first time in a summer session this year. As of the beginning of June, enrollment was 1,004, which is 7 percent more than in the year before. Summer enrollment is up 64 percent since 2004.

The area s four-year universities are not immune to the economic impact on enrollment.

At the University of Toledo as of Tuesday, 8,752 were enrolled for the summer, an increase of 6.8 percent. The numbers change often because people enroll for the multiple sessions.

The most recent numbers show the bulk of growth is in graduate programs, with a 13.4 percent bump over the year before. Undergraduate enrollment is up 3.6 percent.

Kevin Kucera, UT s associate vice president of enrollment services, said he s talked to a number of UT students who are taking classes now because they didn t get summer jobs.

At Bowling Green State University, the numbers are going the opposite way, with a 2 percent decline. The main campus in Bowling Green is down 125 students, but the Firelands Campus in Huron, Ohio, is up nearly 90.

BGSU has been experiencing enrollment declines in recent years, and administrators previously said that regional campuses like BGSU are negatively affected in difficult financial times because people might choose less expensive community colleges or live at home and commute to an urban university.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:mgilbert@theblade.comor 419-724-6134.



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