by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”Enrollment at Waubonsee Community College continues to rise, with this year showing a double-digit increase over last year.
According to Waubonsee Community College spokesperson Jeff Noblitt, there are nearly 15 percent more students at the Sugar Grove, Aurora and Rush-Copley campuses taking classes this fall compared to 2008, when enrollment showed a 9.5 percent spike over the previous year.
This year, the total number of hours taken is more than 16 percent over fall 2008, on top of a 9.9 percent increase in hours over the year before, a trend that began six years ago.
More are becoming full-time students, Noblitt said.
â€œIt’s partially driven by the economy,â€ he said. â€œThe economic downturn has resulted in lost jobs and the need to go back to school to retrain for better jobs.â€
â€œPeople have either lost their jobs, had their hours cut or are fearful of losing their jobs,â€ he said. â€œThey see education as the way to boost their career.â€
Noblitt said the college has also seen an increase in the number of traditional college-age students, as more begin their college career sat a two-year school before, transferring to a four-year college at the end of the second year.
â€œThis way they can stay on track with their college education, and it saves a lot of money,â€ Noblitt said.
Noblitt said President Barack Obama made community colleges an important factor in what he feels will pull the economy forward. In addition, Vice-President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor, has been a visible advocate of a community college education since the president took office.
People are also becoming more knowledgeable about what a junior college can offer, Noblitt added. With smaller class sizes and a more nurturing environment, the beginning student is more likely to succeed.
Increase in numbers of students enrolled at Waubonsee
2004-2005 2.4 percent
2007-2008 9.5 percent
2008-2009 14+ percent