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Enrollment up at community colleges

October 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Enrollment is up at the state's community colleges, as Californians head back to the classroom to learn new skills. But budgets and staffing are not.Tuesday morning the parking lot at Riverside Community College was packed.

Enrollment is sky-high mostly because of the economy. First off, community colleges are less expensive options for students, but experts say there is another big, but pretty simple reason.

"I got let go because of the economy," said Annette Boysest.

Boysest was laid off when her bank went under. She now finds herself back at school learning new skills. And there are many others just like her. Liza Barraza was in sales, but also got let go.

"Now we have to try and find a new avenue -- something new, something else to fall back on. I was doing sales for so long and I know a lot of people that have been laid off," said Barraza.

"As layoffs happen in the industry and business people are thinking about new careers or new opportunities, they go back to the community colleges to get training," said John Levin, UCR professor.

Typically schools see about a two percent growth in enrollment from year to year, but statewide community colleges will see a six percent jump this year.

In the Inland Empire at RCC they're expecting a 12 percent jump. But just because enrollment is going up, which means more students are paying tuition, doesn't mean more money is being spent on staff.

Consequently classes are getting crowded, because even though enrollment is up state funding isn't -- again because of the economy.

"I can't say that the quality diminishes, but I can say that support services for those students would be diminished. You have too many bodies and not enough resources to take care of them," said Levin.

And the trend is expected to continue. If it does, expect more people in school, more people in class, and more cars in the parking lot.


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