Record enrollment at CCC builds a brighter future for the community

10/17/09


Cumberland County College is bustling with a record enrollment of 4,014 students and 500 students taking courses at the on-campus Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center. In addition to the credit courses, CCC is conducting employee training programs for area businesses and nearly 500 students are taking community education courses to prepare for careers in an array of fields such as certified pharmacy technician and certified massage therapist.

There’s a “beautiful noise” on campus as students are discovering new horizons in our modern classrooms and labs, and they are learning to be leaders by participating in activities and sports.

And who are these students? They’re as diverse as our community’s population. Sixteen- to 70-year-old students from a variety of backgrounds are on campus with a common goal: To better their lives through higher education.

This year’s 4,014 student total is 5 percent higher than last year’s fall enrollment of 3,822 students, which was the highest enrollment in the college’s history at the time. And there was a 9.9 percent increase in full-time students, from 2,151 students in 2008 to 2,365 students this fall.

Forty-three percent of the student body is 20 years old or younger. In fact, 30.6 percent of the students who graduated last May from the six high schools in Cumberland County are attending CCC this fall. That’s 547 high school graduates who chose to attend their local community college. Diversity is celebrated at CCC; there are 836 African American students, 784 Hispanic students, 62 American Indian students and 68 Asian American students.

There are 181 School Counts! students and 280 NJ STARS students in this class. Students who earn certificates in high school are eligible for School Counts! Scholarships to attend CCC and students who graduate from high school in the top 15 percent of their class are eligible for NJ STARS scholarships.

More and more residents are getting financial assistance to attend CCC through state and federal grants, scholarships and work study programs. In 1998, when fall enrollment was 2,663 students, $3,342,972 was awarded in financial aid. This year, students received $13,339,531 in financial assistance. This is an incredible increase. Yes, CCC is truly an opportunity college.

Some of the top enrollments are in programs that prepare students for “make a difference” careers in health care, education, law enforcement and corrections, business administration and social service. It’s not surprising because these are in-demand career fields.

Enrollment is also rising dramatically at the University Center, which opened on campus in January 2008. Four hundred thirty-eight students are enrolled for fall semester courses, compared to 368 students in fall 2008. That’s a 19 percent increase. Residents are recognizing that this is an incredible opportunity to earn a bachelor’s and even a master’s degree without leaving the county.

We are certainly excited about the college’s growth because it is intertwined with the community’s growth. When residents take advantage of the opportunity to begin and complete their entire college experience at CCC, more educated people will stay right here in our community. And they will provide essential professional services and leadership, making life better for all of us.