Some of Iowa’s community colleges are experiencing record enrollment. Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids has about 18,000 students enrolled this fall — a 17% increase from last year. Kirkwood president Mick Starcevich says there are number of reasons including more of Iowa’s high school seniors remaining instate and better out-of-state recruitment.
Starcevich says the record enrollment is “amazing.” He says they’ve been in business for 43 years and started out the first year with 299 students, and this year they have 17,841. He says though, the biggest reason for the jump is the bad economy.
“If the economy is good, enrollment will not increase. If the economy is bad enrollment will increase and I think that’s what’s happened here,” Starcevich says. Starcevich says people who are unemployed or underemployed are coming back to learn new skills.
Starcevich says they don’t expect enrollments to continue going up. He says, “As we project our enrollment and after seeing what’s happened this year into our budget projections we’re figuring another increase for next fall, not as big as this one but up in the two to three percent range and then the next year after that sort of a leveling and then the next year after that, a drop.”
Des Moines Area Community College has nearly 20% more students than last year bringing its student population to more than twenty-two thousand. That’s an increase of nearly twenty percent from last fall.