State community colleges hit record enrollment - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

State community colleges hit record enrollment

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By Ashley Conroy

RIDGELAND, MS (WLBT) -- More Mississippians who work full-time and have a full-time family are putting their heads back into the books.

As part of this number, Holmes Community College reports record enrollment of 4 thousand students at the Ridgeland campus, and 7,300 students district-wide.

Vice President Joe Adams says they are seeing more non-traditional students attending these days, and the campus has worked to accommodate these students.

"We have to do a lot of things creatively as far as offering classes during the day, during the evening, online classes," Adams said.

Student, Tina McGahey, she says going back with people half her age has proved worth it.

"It was a hard decision, but that's where I've been lead to do," McGahey said.

McGahey is part of a growing enrollment trend in community colleges with a total of 88,800 students in classes state-wide, according to the State Community College Board.

Executive Director, Dr. Eric Clark says though this 7.2 percent increase is positive, it's also come while community colleges have seen state budget cuts.

"Last year we had a combination of about a 15 percent enrollment increase, and a budget cut of more than 10 percent, and that's hard to reconcile those two numbers," Dr. Clark said.

Holmes reports the average age student is 25 years old, and they offer online and night courses to accommodate these students.

"We've always been very student oriented because that's why were here. We're not a research institution or anything like that, so we're here to serve the students and that's our main focus," Adams said.

Adams says they too have felt the pinch of state budget cuts at Holmes.

"What we always try to do, is to make sure we get the most impact for the money we spend and of course that's at the point of learning," Adams said.

Dr. Clark says he would like the state Legislature to support junior colleges as much as possible, because of the service they offer.

"We are helping Mississippians have a better life. Community colleges teach more than a quarter of a million Mississippians every year."

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