GCC Enrollment Continues Its Steady Rise Year to Year

Michael Konigsberg
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Parking is scarce, a handful of English classes are held in bio labs, and some classes swell to hold 40. Despite these barriers, students are committed to enrolling.

According to the campus number crunchers, there are 569 fewer students on campus this semester. But crowding continues to be a problem because overall enrollment is increasing year to year.
That’s good news for the school in general, because more students mean more student fees. (But this year GCC has exceeded a state cap on the number of students for which the state reimburse community colleges.)

One reason for the steady swell may be the winter session, which was conducted for the first time. Such a program not only allows GCC students more course options but also may be an attractive alternative for students from other area colleges who want to get courses out of the way in between terms.

Here are the numbers: This semester, 16,591 students are enrolled in GCC, according to Student Retention Services; although this is lower than the 17,160 students enrolled this past fall, the number still represents an increase compared with the spring semesters of 2001 and 2000. This spring there are 1,111 more students than last spring and 1,443 than spring 2000.

But the news also means more parking problems and crowded classrooms, compounded by campus construction projects. In fact, those issues, along with family and financial problems, may have played a role in the dip in enrollment this spring, said Susan Borquez-Dougherty, director of Student Retention Services.
Nevertheless, spring enrollment has always been traditionally lower than in the fall, perhaps because there is traditionally a large infusion of newly graduated high school students who enter in the fall; then when the reality of a college workload or financial burdens become apparent, some students simply slip away, Borquez-Dougherty said. Failing grades also may cause enrollees to drop out, said Edward Karpp, director of Research and Planning.

As for the winter session, it debuted in January, with 6,618 students, Borquez-Dougherty said. Of these, 6,464, or 93 percent, completed with a letter grade other than W. Interestingly, despite the demanding workload that a five-week summer or six-week winter session necessitates, the rate of retention, or enrolled students completing their course of study, for these sessions at GCC is consistently higher than an average 87 percent in fall and spring, Borquez-Dougherty said.