The anatomy of the student body at GCC has changed on a small scale in several ways over the past five years.
The most pronounced change has been the influx of refugee and asylum students within the non-credit population.
The number of these students increased to 1,621 in the fall of 2000 from 415 in 1998, according to the 2001 Campus Profile compiled by the Research and Planning office this fall.
Particularly significant are figures from a survey conducted this spring by Edward Karpp, GCC Director of Institutional Research, which showed that 61.2 percent of the college’s credit students were not born in the United States and 68 percent did not learn English as their first language.
The numbers demonstrate “the incredible, wonderful Ellis Island we now see on campus,” said Nancy Knight, vice president of College Services.
This trend toward diversification started in the 1980s.
Phyllis Hoover, an English professor, says she has noticed more Armenians, especially from Russia, populating the college, and she has also seen more women enrolled in her classes. “I have English 101 with 26 students and only five are men,” she said.
In the fall of 2000, 60 percent of credit students were women, 40 percent men.
One reason for the wide spread may be that “women are less likely to be working full time and women who speak English as a second language are more likely to strive for better language skills than their male counterparts,” said Mark Maier, an economics professor.
Dr. Levon Marashlian, a history/ethnic studies and political science professor, says that he has noticed an increase of older immigrant students in their 30s or 40s who enroll to improve their language skills.
Some are hoping to earn an associate of arts, degree or finish their general education, while others have earned their degrees and even their doctorates in their native countries and are trying to learn the English language.
Karpp said one reason for the higher enrollment of women is “at least partially economic. Women’s work generally tends to require more education.”
Another change that has been felt is the increase in enrollment of students 20 years old and younger.
“Recently we have seen our students get younger,” said Knight, acknowledging the effect of a 3.5 percent increase in the credit students between fall 1997 and fall 2000 and a 1.5 percent increase of non-credit students within the same years.
Alen Andriassian, Student Activities Coordinator, also has witnessed the increase of international students “becoming more active on campus every day.”
There has also been a significant increase in enrollment of disabled students “because of the excellence of our support programs,” Knight said. “We are very proud of this achievement.”