For the second time in three years, Genesee Community College has been recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in community college enrollment growth, President Stuart Steiner reported to the Board of Trustees Monday evening.
Using data supplied by the U. S. Department of Education, Community College Week, a national professional publication, reported last week that Genesee Community College was the 17th fastest-growing community college in the United States between the period fall 2004 and fall 2005. During that period, Genesee recorded a 6.3% enrollment gain, from 6,106 students enrolled in the fall of 2004 to 6,490 students enrolled in the fall of 2005.
Two years ago, Community College Week reported that Genesee Community College was the 8th fastest-growing mid-sized community college in the nation between the fall 2002 and fall 2003 period.
Taft College in California was the fastest-growing mid-sized community college in the United States between 2004 and 2005, with a 17.7% enrollment gain.
Genesee’s ranking in the Community College Week report reflects growth among both full-time and part-time students. Growth in the College’s distance learning programs – which allow students to complete college courses online, in their own homes – was a factor in the increase. Growth in the College’s Accelerated College Enrollment programs, which bring Genesee Community College courses to juniors and seniors in area high schools, was also a major factor in the increase, Dr. Steiner reported.
The numbers are only part of the story, Dr. Steiner told trustees. While Genesee’s growth is impressive, the reasons for the growth are what count, he said. “Colleges that do an outstanding job of educating students earn great reputations, and colleges with great reputations tend to grow,” he said. “While the population of our four-county service area is relatively flat, Genesee Community College’s growth has been extraordinary. An increasing number of local students have chosen Genesee as their number one college choice and we attract an ever-growing number of out-of-area students, as well. The substantial growth in international students was also a factor in the growth during that period. This growth is due to the great work of our College trustees, admissions personnel, and our faculty and support staff.”
Dr. Steiner said that, while many fast-growing colleges lose the personal touch, Genesee has been able to retain what he called a “family feeling” throughout the college community. “Faculty members know their students, and work with students one-to-one,” he said. “Staff members from every area of the college, from the admissions office to the library, make it their personal missions to help students feel welcome at Genesee and to help them succeed in achieving their academic and career goals.”
Much of Genesee’s growth has come from outside of the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region, a fact that speaks volumes about Genesee Community College, Dr. Steiner told trustees. “When I hear students from Japan or Ukraine tell me that they came thousands of miles to Genesee for their education because of what a friend or counselor told them about Genesee, I feel a great sense of pride.”
Affordable tuition and a commitment to state-of-the-art technology have also influenced Genesee’s enrollment growth, Dr. Steiner said.
Genesee’s growth rate will probably ease over the next five years, according to Dr. Steiner. “Community colleges in general may level off in enrollment and a zero-growth rate in the New York State population will eventually affect Genesee,” he said. “But what matters most is not that we make the national growth lists each year, but that we maintain our outstanding reputation and our commitment to extraordinary education.”
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