By Gary Mitchell
Interest in higher learning is on the rise.
All four area colleges anticipate higher enrollment figures for the upcoming fall semester.
Officials at Clovis Community College and the Clovis/Cannon branch of Wayland Baptist University say they’re hoping to see record growth this term.
“We had record enrollment in 2002-2003 with an increase of almost 8 percent,” said CCC President Beverlee McClure. “So we are anticipating a record increase this fall. We expect that increase to continue. Our summer enrollment was up about 8 percent as well.”
McClure said several factors could be attributed to the growth.
“Our online classes are growing,” she said. “We’ve added new programs, and we’re having more student activities on campus, and that’s attracting more students.”
Michelle Schmidt, dean of student services at CCC, said the college has already received 700 new applications for the fall semester.
“Things look good,” she said. “We’re getting a lot of applications in. We piloted our Web registration this summer, and it worked out so well, we decided to go ahead with online registration Aug. 4.”
Wayland Baptist University-Clovis campus Dean Carol Green noted an increase in the number of student applications so far this fall.
“So we’re expecting a record enrollment this time,” she said. “Wayland Baptist University systemwide was up 12-13 percent this summer. So that’s a good indication — along with the higher number of applications — of a possible record enrollment. We anticipate a 12-15 percent growth over last fall.”
Green said the Clovis/Cannon Air Force Base campus was down in the spring due primarily to military deployments.
“Most of those deployed are now home, and that will be a factor,” she said. “Another reason we expect a greater enrollment is a new $100 scholarship program offered to Clovis Community College graduates to come to Wayland. To qualify, they have to be a graduate of an associate degree program at CCC, have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher and be enrolled in their first WBU-Clovis class during the fall 2003, winter 2003 or spring 2004 semesters.”
Eastern New Mexico University officials are anticipating continued increases in the freshman class this fall.
“Right now, we’re up almost 10 percent in first-time freshmen,” said Ronnie Birdsong, ENMU vice president of university relations and enrollment services. “We feel good about our freshman class. They’re stronger academically this year than they have been in the past few years.”
Last fall, the enrollment for first-time freshmen was 518, and the highest year was in 1988 with 600 first-time freshmen.
“The recruiters think we’ll get close to that record year,” Birdsong said. “We sure hope so. The school has always been very student-centered. We’ve changed our recruiting methods. Our recruiters and President’s Ambassadors (selected student representatives) stay actively involved with the students through the second or third week of school to help them get settled in. The motto is: ‘Personal Touch for Student Success.’ Our general slogan on all our publications is: ‘Student Success — That’s What It’s All About.’ ”
Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari also expects greater numbers this fall.
“Our enrollment has continually improved since I’ve been here. I came here three years ago,” said John Yearout, director of public relations for the college. “In the spring, we broke our record enrollment with just over 600 students. We’re a small college. This is a college where students get lots of personal attention.”