CNCC Craig campus enrollment up third year in a row | CraigDailyPress.com

CNCC Craig campus enrollment up third year in a row

John Whipple scales Telluride's Via Ferrata earlier this year. Whipple







— Enrollment is up at Colorado Northwestern Community College's Craig campus for the third year in a row, according to numbers recently compiled by the college. Total enrollment throughout the college's two campuses and service areas is also higher at 1,118 students, a 2.4-percent increase over last year.

Though Craig's student headcount has been smaller than Rangely's in years past, the current semester marks the first time the campuses have a nearly equal number of students enrolled, with a total of 380 students in Craig compared to 376 students in Rangely. The number equates to an 11-percent increase for the Craig campus over last year.

"Last year was a big growth year for Craig as well, so that's why we're now seeing a little bit of convergence between the two (campuses)," said CNCC President Russell George. "We've now finally come of age in the new campus."

The completion of a new academic building four years ago created a larger capacity for students on the Craig campus that college administrators are still growing into, Russell said.

One difference that remains between the two campuses is a larger number of part-time students on the Craig campus compared to more full-time students in Rangely. Whereas Craig tends to serve a larger number of non-traditional students who may also work while taking classes, Rangely attracts a larger number of traditional, full-time students with its residential campus.

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"We want to serve students, whether that's full-time or part-time, so we want to offer enough variety for all those populations," said Vice President of CNCC's Craig campus Janell Oberlander.

Because of the higher number of part-time students, Craig is only funded at 120 students — its Full Time Equivalent count — compared to 171 in Rangely. The college saw a 1-percent rise in its funded, or FTE, student count this year.

CNCC Craig's Dean of Instruction Donna Theimer is happy to see the positive trend, and attributes it to growing awareness about the college.

"I really think it's because people are starting to recognize the value of what we can offer our students and parents, who only have to pay half-tuition," Theimer said. "My goal is to break the stigma that we're 'just' a community college."

Students who reside in Moffat County enjoy the added benefit of a 50-percent tuition buy-down, meaning only half the actual tuition comes out of students's pockets, while the other half is paid through county taxes.

Looking ahead, college administrators are working towards adding four-year degrees in both business and dental hygiene. In the coming years, the Craig campus could also see the addition of more programs training students for the medical field, such as physical therapy assistant, radiology technician and medical assistant programs.

"What we're looking for is sustainability. A lot times in the history of little schools like this one, you see ups and downs. You have to look past that," George said. "In these communities, for all the worry about coal and economics, the college continues to be upbeat and I think that's very helpful."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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