(Update: Adding video, comments from COCC director of admissions)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With the first day of fall term just days away, Central Oregon Community College said Tuesday it's set to begin the new academic year with an 11.1% increase from 2022 in credit-seeking headcount. COCC’s total student headcount — including noncredit students — is up 21%.
Classes begin next Monday, and 3,700 students are currently enrolled to take one or more for-credit classes across COCC’s four campuses. Notably, new student applications — including new college students, those returning after an absence, along with transfer and current high school students — have jumped by 13.2% since 2022.
“It’s very encouraging to see this positive enrollment growth, after several years of pandemic-driven decreases,” said Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs. “We suspect the growth is the result of a combination of many factors, including our new career-specific programs, a record amount of COCC Foundation scholarship dollars available to students, more flexibility with how our classes are delivered, and likely some changes in the labor market, too.”
"Our foundation has been awarding over $2 million in funding a year," Hayes said. "When you have an affordable tuition rate, and then you have really good opportunities for students to apply to scholarships, it really benefits students."
Some programs have gained popularity of late.
"Culinary is seeing an increase in enrollment." Hayes added. "A lot of our health care programs are seeing an increase as well. We're seeing a need in the community."
Additionally, the college’s Redmond and Madras campuses have both seen significant enrollment increases, said Tyler Hayes, COCC’s registrar and director of admissions. At the Redmond campus, headcount is up 14.9% from last year, while the Madras campus is seeing close to an 87% leap in the same category.
“We continue to bring more academic opportunities to our branch campuses, and I think our enrollment this fall is reflecting that,” Hayes said. “Students can now take more transfer-degree courses on their ‘home’ campus, without having to commute long distances or spend so much money on gas. We also offer more specific degrees and certificates just in Redmond, like our new community health worker certificate, or our veterinary technician program.”
Another bright spot for COCC’s fall term is the nearly-filled-to-capacity 320-bed Wickiup Hall, on track to welcome 306 students — 96% of the facility’s capacity — on move-in day this Thursday.