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Community Colleges Seeing Record Enrollment

Community Colleges Seeing Record Enrollment

The Fayetteville Observer

August 24, 2009

Aug. 24—Community colleges in the Cape Fear region are seeing a record number of people enrolling in classes for the fall semester.

But some of the schools are short on instructors and space as they try to accommodate the growing number of students while working with cash strapped budgets.

All of the colleges in the region have seen an increase in enrollment. The increase ranges from about 6 percent at Central Carolina Community College to 23 percent at Southeastern Community College.

Many of those students, college official says, are people looking to pick up new skills or a new career path after losing their jobs.

“The economy and the fact that there is a lot of renewed emphasis to get an education is the driving force behind the large numbers,” said Charles Chrestman, president of Robeson Community College in Lumberton. “Second, the unemployment rate is also a contributing factor. The unemployment rate is high and people are going back to community colleges to give themselves an edge and to get back into the job market.”

Robeson County’s unemployment rate for June was 12.3 percent with 7,180 people unemployed.

About 2,700 students are expected at Robeson Community College this fall — a 12.5 percent increase. More than 300 classes at the college are full.

“There is not a free seat,” Chrestman said. “People are taking advantage of the opportunities that are here.”