OCCC is one of the fastest-growing colleges in Oklahoma and has been for some time, said Stu Harvey, planning and research executive director.
To no one’s surprise, fall numbers showed another increase — 5.7 percent in credit hours and 5 percent growth in headcount.
Currently, 13,999 students are enrolled for fall 2010.
Harvey said at any given time there can be more than 15,000 people on campus, including students, faculty, and staff. This is larger than many towns in the state, he said.
Jamie Lynn Gregg, psychology major, said she likes the idea of a larger student body.
“I am a first-year student here and I feel like it is ging to get me ready for a bigger college when I finish here,” Gregg said.
According to a report generated by Joyce Morgan-Dees, senior research analyst, OCCC has experienced a 25 percent growth since 2008.
Looking at the numbers, Harvey said, he sees some hopeful trends. More students are staying on campus longer.
“Returning students are up 7.3 percent so we think that is pointing toward a more positive outcome since they are hanging in there,” Harvey said.
He said one of the college’s goals is to see more students stay at OCCC long enough to graduate.
Harvey said the increase is positive because it’s what “Achieving the Dream” and student success initiatives are all about.
Two groups that have seen a particularly large increase in enrollment are African-American students and adult students.
“African-Americans have had a huge growth at 16.1 percent, including males at 19.1 percent,” Harvey said.
The number of African-Americans increased to 1,594 students, making them the largest ethnic minority on campus.
He said adult students in the age groups of 25 to 60 and older also were up — between 12 and 35 percent in their respective age categories.
Morgan-Dees said there would be an additional 10 percent increase in the student body when the second 8-week session begins in October.
President Paul Sechrist said other factors that impact enrollment at OCCC include affordability and convenience.
“Community colleges, and especially OCCC, are increasingly the college of first choice for many students,” he said.
“We have a proven record of providing a high quality collegiate experience at a cost that is lower than most colleges or universities in the area,” Sechrist said in an e-mail message.
Harvey said he agrees.
“It’s at a good price point and we offer a quality education,” he said.
“I would put us up against anybody. Our faculty is great and they focus on teaching,” he said. “We are happy to welcome more students.”
Harvey said he believes many OCCC students put forth a heroic effort to get a degree.
He said many of the students at the college are working, taking care of families, and going to school at the same time.
Sechrist said he commends students for choosing college to become better educated.
“It is not only good for job prospects,” Sechrist said.
“Broadening one’s education is good for Oklahoma and good for the country.”
Editor Jennifer Massey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.