9.7% enrollment increase for an East Texas college

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

KILGORE, TX - One East Texas college has seen a 9.7% increase in their enrollment since last spring. The college recorded that 5,550 students were enrolled on the twelfth class day this year versus 5,059 students last year.

The enrollment count is the largest in the 74-year history of the college.

"Kilgore College is fortunate to experience continued healthy enrollment growth," College President Dr. William Holda said. "We are committed to providing increased access for students of all ages and look forward to the opportunities to serve our community with diverse educational opportunities."

The deadline for spring enrollment data to be submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is March 15, so certified enrollment figures will be available around that time.

"This number is unofficial and will decrease a little bit over the next couple of weeks as we go through the process of verifying and correcting information," said Staci Martin, registrar and director of admissions.

The increased enrollment announcement comes on the heels of a December report by Community College Week magazine that ranked KC as one of the fastest-growing colleges in the nation.

The magazine ranked the top 50 community colleges with 2,500-4,999 students by percentage of enrollment increases, and named KC 37th on the list with a 9.2 percent increase in students from fall 2006 to fall 2007.

Enrollment has increased by 16.6 percent since the fall of 2006.

One factor in KC's enrollment growth is the increase in the number of high school students taking advantage of the dual credit program.  The program gives high school students an opportunity to enter their freshman year of college with college credits.

KC's dual credit program has increased in the number of students since last spring by 54 percent, and by 65 percent in the number of semester credit hours taken.

Last spring, 448 dual credit students were enrolled in 2,069 semester credit hours.  This spring, 691 students are enrolled in 3,425 semester credit hours, with 23 local high schools participating.

"It shows significant growth in both areas as a result of local independent school districts working to make dual credit available to their students," said Terry Booker, dean of liberal and fine arts.  "We were very pleased with the spring numbers."

Last fall, KC had 725 students enrolled in 3,485 semester credit hours.

Trey Hattaway, Director of Enrollment Management and Marketing, said that he also attributes the continued growth to the economy.

"The same economy that helped us in 2007 is now seeing a downturn," Hattaway said. "However, a slow economy usually sends people back to school for re-training, a change of vocation or just to upgrade their skills."

Because of the economy, Hattaway said that students who would normally start their educational careers at a four-year school may start out at a two-year college because of the rising cost of higher education.

"Kilgore College is committed to being a 'community' college," Hattaway said. "We are continually listening to our community partners in industry to see how we can assist them in keeping a qualified workforce available so that the downturn in the economy is minimal."