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Aspen CMC rolls rise 7 percent


John Stroud

Glenwood Springs correspondent, Aspen Times

Matt Alberico waits for his next class at the Spring Valley Campus of Colorado Mountain College, outside Glenwood Springs, Wednesday morning. Kelley Cox/Post Independent

Matt Alberico waits for his next class at the Spring Valley Campus of Colorado Mountain College, outside Glenwood Springs, Wednesday morning. Kelley Cox/Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Colorado Mountain College is seeing an upward trend in enrollment similar to other community colleges across the country this fall, a spike that can probably be chalked up to the recession.

“We’re seeing strong enrollment increases pretty much across the board this fall,” CMC spokesperson Debra Crawford said. “We have been expecting this, as community colleges across the country are seeing increased enrollment because of the recession. People are seeking affordable, quality retraining and education.”

The Roaring Fork campus (Glenwood Springs and Carbondale centers) has seen an enrollment increased of 14.3 percent this fall, compared to the same time last year, based on unduplicated head counts for the fall semester classes, Crawford said. The Aspen campus saw a 6.9 percent increase.

At the Lappala Center in Carbondale, enrollment has gone up 34.5 percent, and at the Glenwood Center enrollment is up by 17.8 percent.

The Spring Valley residential campus outside of Glenwood was the only exception. Enrollment there fell by 2.1 percent.

That drop only translates to 17 students, and mostly appears to be due to a drop in out-of-state enrollment, Crawford said.

“I think a lot of traditional students are staying closer to home to go to college,” she said. “In fact, we have seen a significant increase in in-district enrollment at our residential campuses.”

CMC’s other two residential campuses, at Steamboat Springs and Leadville, have also both seen an increase in overall enrollment this fall, Crawford said.

A rise in people seeking job retraining and developmental education after losing jobs is the likely reason for the enrollment rise.

In addition to the increases at the Glenwood and Carbondale centers, the West Garfield County campus in Rifle has seen a 12.2 percent enrollment increase this fall.

College-wide, enrollment increased 9.2 percent for fall 2009 compared to fall 2008, Crawford said.

“Not only the loss of jobs in the oil and gas industry, but a lot of support businesses were affected in western Garfield County,” she said. “We are seeing an increase in people taking developmental education classes, so that they will be more employable.”

The biggest increase has been in people taking distance learning courses, including online and video classes. Enrollment in those classes has increased 29.1 percent this fall.

“At the Glenwood Center and Aspen campus, and through distance learning, we are also seeing more students taking a heavier class load compared to the same time last fall,” Crawford said.

Enrollment numbers are likely to continue to go up, because several classes start throughout the semester, including English as a second-language classes and customized business training classes.

This article was reprinted from the Oct. 8 edition of the Aspen Times.