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Enrollment increase not unexpected

September 1st, 2009

When I read this morning that enrollment was up at Northeast Community College in Booneville, I was not surprised.

The college had 3,707 students enrolled when registration ended for the current semester. This marks a 275 student increase over the previous record set in the fall of 2007 and a 405 student boost over last year’s figure.

NEMCC President Dr. Johnny Allen said it’s impossible to attribute the rise in enrollment to any single factor, but he believes the college’s efforts to recruit more students have played a major role.

I was not surprised on a couple of levels.

First, with the economy still making things hard on Mississippians, 2-year schools in the Magnolia State have a real value to offer families wanting to send their children to college. Plus, the education at the community college level is as good as anyone could expect. Without having all the numbers in front of me, tuition at Mississippi’s community colleges are signifcantly lower than than of their 4-year brothers. That’s a real value under any economic scenario.

Second, however, is the 4-year schools having to increase tuition, specifically, the four small schools — Alcorn State, Delta State, Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi Valley State.

When the Stacy Davidson, Scott Ross and the other members of the Institutions of Higher Learning decided to implement a funding formula that penalized the small schools, a result such as this could be expected. I suspect, when all is said and done, the four small 4-year schools will have decreased enrollment while the community colleges, as a whole, will be up as well as big schools like Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

In the end, the community colleges are looking good.

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