Major Increase in College Enrollment

August 12, 2008 12:19:36 AM PDT
Telesforo Wences is enrolling in college for the first time. Laid off when his company left town, he's hoping to find job security thru Reedley College. Telesforo Wences said: "I want to improve my skills to be prepared because right now it's too hard to find a job." Wences is not alone. Reedley, Fresno City, and the College of Sequoias, all expect at least a five-percent increase in enrollment this fall. Reedley College counselor Maria Gonzales said: "With the economy in a downturn a lot of students are coming back to see if they can improve job skills, maybe learn a trade."

Other students like Sean Ketchum who had the necessary training, but couldn't find jobs, are staying in school to polish their skills. Ketchum said: "After I got certified, the job market was really kind of bad, so I decide to go to school because it pays the bills with the grants. Plus I like the computers I just keep on learning."

With long lines waiting to enroll, Fresno City College expects more than 23-thousand students on campus this fall. Since the state is also struggling in this economy, community colleges won't be getting any extra state dollars to handle the extra need.

Fresno City College Interim President Guy Lease said: "Right now the state is looking at anywhere from 1.6 %-to-2 percent enrollment increase cap that we'll get, and we're looking at a 12 and half percent increase in students, so you can see the problem here."

Despite the funding gap, Lease says the State Center Community College District will not limit enrollment. That's important to students like Cassidy Mendoza who's headed back to Reedley College. With three small children, and husband who's been laid off she hopes to get a nursing degree.

Laurie Penco asked: "What does this mean to your family? Mendoza said: "Everything, a career instead of a job, a career."

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