More people are choosing to spend part of their summer in a college classroom in Iowa. Two of the state’s largest community colleges are reporting double-digit percentage increases in summer enrollment.

Laurie Wolf is the Executive Dean of Student Services at Des Moines Area Community College. She says the number of credit hours at DMACC are up 19.5% while enrollment’s up 15% over last summer.

More than 10,700 students were enrolled at DMACC when summer classes started May 25. Wolf believes it’s a sign of the times. “While we’re seeing the economy bump back up for employment, we are also seeing people who are saying ‘well, I can only get a part-time job rather than a full-time job this summer, so if it’s only part-time, maybe I can pick up a couple of classes,'” Wolf said.

Steve Carpenter is a spokesperson for Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. He says enrollment numbers have been climbing for a few years now. Over the past year, the number of Kirkwood students over the age of 25 has jumped 33%. “That has to be a harbinger of things going on in employment, things going on in the economy,” Carpenter told Radio Iowa. “We’ve met many of those students who say ‘yes, I’m facing a lot of life and work decisions and I’ve come to explore new careers.’ That’s definitely been a trend at Kirkwood.”

This summer, more than 8,000 students are enrolled at Kirkwood. That marks a 13% increase over last year. “A lot of the students are what we call ‘reverse transfers’ – they’re students at Iowa, Iowa State, Drake, Luther, Loras…who will be back in the Cedar Rapids or eastern Iowa area for the summer and they’re taking a class or two to stay on track to graduate in four years,” Carpenter said.

Last fall, combined enrollment at Iowa’s 15 community colleges topped the 100,000 mark for the first time in history.