PARKERSBURG -Enrollment for West Virginia University at Parkersburg is down this semester, according to school officials, but there is no cause for concern.
Katie Wootton, spokeswoman for WVU-P, said overall enrollment at the school is down almost 9 percent. That's a continued, three-year decline in students from a 2010 high-water mark.
"We are seeing that many colleges in the state are facing enrollment decreases," Wootton said. "We are attributing a lot of it to the economy. With the economic downturn and the closing of local plants a few years ago, we saw record high numbers for enrollment.
"Now that jobs are becoming more available, many students have either stopped their programs to go back to work or they've since completed their programs and have re-entered the workforce."
In 2010, WVU-P's record enrollment made it the fourth-largest institution of higher education in the state. Enrollment for 2010 was at 4,450 students. Those numbers have dropped off the last two years - 4,234 in 2011 to 3,829 students in 2012.
Officials said on Aug. 27, 2012 the school had 3,642 students. A year later it had 3,187 students.
Wootton said figures for 2013 won't be available until early October.
She noted the school's enrollment of new students is up 1 percent.
"Today we have 689 new students. Last year (Oct. 1) we had 679 new students," she said.
Anthony Underwood, vice president of student services, said college officials are happy many graduates and students are using skills they gained at college to begin or further their careers.
Since the economic downturn of 2009, the college has retrained more than 600 displaced workers and helped them find new and secure jobs, Underwood said.
"I believe that the tentative new student enrollment increase for us is due to the growing knowledge in our community that WVU-P is one of the most affordable bachelor degree options in the nation and offers a combination of technology, accreditation and personal assistance that makes us unique," Underwood said.
"Our veteran student population also continues to grow as we have signed a partnership agreement with the National Guard, added a Veteran Advocate staff position and will be opening a Veterans Resource Center this academic year."