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Students hunting for more bargains at community colleges

Enrollment at community colleges reflects the laws of supply and demand. When the economy gets bad, people are looking for economical ways to get the college education — or the job retraining — that they need, so they turn to community colleges.

Enrollment at community colleges reflects the laws of supply and demand. When the economy gets bad, people are looking for economical ways to get the college education — or the job retraining — that they need, so they turn to community colleges.

The result is increased demand for classes. Last fall, some schools began offering classes on the graveyard shift. Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College, for instance, had sections of writing and psych meeting from 11:45 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Most colleges have not been forced to go to those lengths, though. Camden County College in New Jersey, which serves 25,000 students a year in its credit courses (and another 15,000 in its business and industry and GED classes), spends the first couple of weeks of the semester seeing what classes are overflowing and adding sections as necessary.

“We want students to be able to graduate,” says college president Raymond Yannuzzi. “So we try to offer as many sections of general-ed classes like English and math as needed.” The college is offering 1,962 classes in the spring semester, meeting weekdays, weekends and evenings — but not at midnight.

The situation is similar at SUNY Rockland Community College. Its enrollment has surged over the last five years, reports Dana Stilley, interim dean of enrollment management. About 8,000 students enrolled last fall. “This number is doable for us,” Stilley says. “Although [Gov.] Cuomo is proposing cuts in education, we should be able to continue to maintain offerings and services at current levels.”

 
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