A fall-term Day Campus increase of 109 more students over 2007's tally represents "phenomenal growth" for the college, said Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for academic affairs and professor of political science.
"We have had an average of 35-40 new students a year over the last eight years or so," Smith said. "This is triple the growth that we've seen recently."
Good times, bad times
Day Campus enrollment for the fall 2008 term is 1,181, up from 1,072 last year. The Evening Campus has also grown to 1,287 undergraduates, from 1,276 last year.
"The evening program had been declining slightly because of the popularity of online," Smith said. "So the fact that we've grown, that we've turned a corner, is a good sign." Smith added that a jittery economy, oddly enough, also drives people back to school.
"Historically, that has been the case for decades," Smith said. "There is an inverse relation between the health of the economy and the number of students going back to school. Adults go back to school to upgrade skills and get an education with the prospect that that will make them more employable."
Director of Admissions John Wilkerson said he's seen the same trend among adult learners. "When economic times are hard or not ideal, it creates a question or plants a seed in the adult learner's mind that maybe it's time" to go back to school, he said.
New faculty in the English, biology and mathematics departments have been hired and class sections added to accommodate the students, Smith said. Class sizes remain the same, however; a low student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1 guaranteeing individual attention remains a hallmark of Columbia College education.