Strong enrollment, student-centered focus bode well for new school year at CNCC | CraigDailyPress.com

Strong enrollment, student-centered focus bode well for new school year at CNCC

Lauren Blair

— Colorado Northwestern Community College's classrooms were filled once again with eager minds Monday, as students returned to class and geared up for the year ahead. With full enrollment in nearly all of CNCC's programs, it was a strong start and students have plenty to look forward to.

On Saturday, the college welcomed nearly 150 new and returning students to an open-house-format orientation designed to familiarize students with how to succeed in their programs, Marketing Director Jeff Stoddard said.

"Students attended sessions on our computer-based assignments, grading and communication program called D2L (Desire 2 Learn), financial aid, and they invested time with their faculty advisers," Stoddard said in an email to the Craig Daily Press.

The orientation concluded with a barbecue and a drawing for a Trek mountain bike donated by J&R Cyclery in Craig. The winner of the drawing, Jacob Prescott, is a concurrent student, meaning he is enrolled at Moffat County High School and takes courses offered by CNCC, as well.

This year, the college continues to offer programs in business, nursing, massage therapy, cosmetology, automotive technology and emergency medical services, among other subjects. This is the first year the EMS program has been fully enrolled, with enough students to fill classes from start to finish.

This is also the first year that CNCC is able to offer student housing, with six apartments available to house as many as 12 students.

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"The housing is going to help pull people from other places. That's why we started it," Director of Student Support Jennifer Holloway said.

With most students historically coming to the college from Craig and Moffat County, CNCC is placing a big focus on creating an appealing campus environment and strong academic programs in order to expand its reach.

"As we're growing, our nursing program is pulling in a lot of students from all over," said Holloway, who made note of students from Seattle, Missouri and even China.

Holloway's position is new this year and is part of the college's efforts to create a stronger community among its students. Holloway was herself a student at CNCC from 1991 to 1993 and was active in student government and helped to start Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges.

"We're now focusing our resources on what the students want and making that a priority," Holloway said.

In addition to housing, a new lounge with games, pool tables and space for students to relax is in the works, an effort led by student government.

Holloway is hoping the focus on student needs will not only help to create a sense of community but also engage students in leadership programs and attract more traditional-age students.

A healthy campus initiative is slated to launch this fall, a joint endeavor by Holloway, student government and Phi Theta Kappa. Holloway currently is mapping out walking paths throughout the campus, and the college will offer students free pedometers to encourage them to be active in between classes.

"There's a lot of energy going on right now because it feels like things are moving in the right direction," Dean of Instruction Donna Theimer said.

Enrollment numbers are up this year, Theimer said, with a 28 percent increase in the total number of students enrolled. An uptick in concurrent student numbers is expected, as well.

"Our concurrent program is just growing, and I expect our numbers to go up again this year," Theimer said.

Students still interested in signing up for classes must do so by Wednesday for most programs.