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Community Colleges see drastic increase in enrollments in Fall 2009
A survey of member schools conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) attempts to explain the sudden surge of enrollments in Community Colleges and the relationship to the economic crisis.
The following are the factors compiled by the AACC that played a siginificant role in the enrollment increases:
The Availability of Workforce Training
Increased unemployment for workers reinforced the realization that a college certificate or degree was important for obtaining a job.
Retooling - or enhancing a current skill set - was important for job retention as well as for preparing for career changes.
The limited fiscal resources of previously fiscally secure families positioned community and career colleges as a viable option due to comparably lower tuition and fees.
Outreach to the Community
Students saw value because of marketing and advertising campaigns that highlighted institutional quality and created general awareness of campus offerings. Partnerships with business, industry, and high schools expanded course and programmatic options available at community colleges.
At some campuses, new construction allowed for increased capacity to provide new or additional courses, while at others existing capacity limited the number of students colleges could serve. Enrollment caps at 4-year institutions limited opportunity for some students who, in turn, attended community colleges.
Degree of Urbanization
In terms of locality type, the greatest increase between fall 2007 and fall 2009 was in towns. The large increases observed in towns and rural areas suggest that students are staying closer to home, choosing community colleges over other postsecondary options, or have decided to return to college.
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