MARIETTA - Numbers show that more and more people are enrolling for classes at Washington State Community College.
Throughout 2010 and in to early 2011, Washington State experienced booming enrollment numbers.
Winter 2011 enrollment marked the ninth straight quarter for increased growth in full-time equivalency (FTE) student enrollment and the seventh straight quarter for increases in headcount. The 2011 winter quarter represented the largest winter quarter enrollment for both headcount and FTE in the college's history.
Washington State Community College continues to see increased enrollment and implementation of new programs as it heads into 2011.
This continued growth, said Washington State Chief Enrollment Management Officer Amanda Herb, comes from a combination of the college's abilities to adapt quickly to specific areas of need in the community as well as the changing job market.
"We've seen growth in particular divisions including transfer programs, the engineering and industrial technologies sectors as well as our popular Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO) with high school students," Herb said. "Due to the economic downturn we've been enrolling more adult students looking to attend college for the first time or to return to college to update their skills. And with the rising costs of four-year colleges, we've seen more high school students enrolling at Washington State to get their foundation courses and complete an associates degree before transferring to a four-year program, which saves money and prepares them for the academic rigors of college."
Responding to the growing demand for a WSCC education, the college added its first fully online degree program called process technician in 2010 and just received state approval to launch a new GeoScience major in the fall of 2011.
"These programs are in direct response to the needs of employers in our community as well as the continued advancements in technical career fields," Herb said.
The process technician degree is applicable to many jobs in industrial settings throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond. The GeoScience degree readies students for careers in the oil and gas industry or other careers using geographic information system technology.
Beyond growth in the classroom, WSCC launched several enrichment activities on campus in 2010, including the college players theater program, a college chorale and club sports. The college also boasts multiple clubs/academic teams for students to get more involved and learn practical applications for their skills. A group of students who won the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at the school last fall will be heading to a national competition at Purdue this spring.
Faculty at the college continues to earn top state honors for excellence in teaching, including Carole Hancock, who was chosen as the 2009-10 Teacher of the Year by the Ohio Association of Two-Year Colleges.
Additionally, faculty and staff participate in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) which uses the accreditation process at a college to infuse principals and benefits of continuous improvement into college culture.
As part of the college's continuous improvement efforts, faculty and staff are participating in campus-wide customer service training. They will also take emotional intelligence training and maintaining trust doctrine courses to help improve staff and faculty communications efforts with each other and the community.
The new year poses some challenges for WSCC, with proposed cuts to state funding on the horizon as well as a search for a new president due to current President Charlotte Hatfield's pending retirement at the end of 2011.
Those challenges, however, are not daunting to college officials, Hatfield said.
"Faculty and staff at Washington State have an enormous capacity to do more with less, and while cuts in education funding will be tough, I have every confidence that the we will adapt and continue offering students a top-quality education," she said. "Sometimes, it is through these types of challenges that we find the greatest opportunities to grow and change for the better."