Columbia Basin College enrollment jumps

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 27, 2013 

aerial photo air view west pasco

Enrollment at Columbia Basin College in Pasco has increased by 400 students from fall 2012. College officials say the Running Start program, GED classes and degrees aimed at management-level jobs are attracting new students.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

From high school students getting a jump start on college to adults continuing their education, 400 more students are attending Columbia Basin College this fall compared with last year.

Almost 7,200 people were filling the college's classrooms by the third day of classes Wednesday, compared with more than 6,800 students last fall.

The Running Start program, classes for finishing a high school education and degrees aimed at management level jobs are attracting many students, college officials said.

But CBC's worker training programs continued to see declining enrollment.

CBC President Rich Cummins said the growing total enrollment is evidence people are putting a premium on education and trying to get it affordably. But it's also because of the growing population of the Tri-Cities, he said.

"It's our part of the market share," he told the Herald.

College officials said the boom in enrollment won't strain CBC's resources yet. The college recently hired 15 new faculty, partially to staff new programs but also to fill positions left empty in prior years after budget cuts.

But Cummins said they will be watching closely to make sure their resource needs don't fall behind.

Running Start, a program that allows high school students to take college-level courses toward an associate degree, had the biggest increase in students. It serves 852 students, almost 100 more than at this time last fall.

CBC's newest four-year programs in cybersecurity and project management didn't have students last year but now have dozens. The college's four-year applied management program also added a handful more students.

The Adult Basic Education program, which helps people older than 18 prepare for the GED or obtain basic skills in reading, writing and math, saw its enrollment almost double since last fall.

The GED is set to change in January, and anyone who has started it and not completed the series of five tests by then will have to start over.

Daphne Larios, interim assistant dean for basic skills, said she suspects part of the increase in students in her department is from people wanting to finish the GED before the new system kicks in.

In Richland, Washington State University Tri-Cities, which started classes a month ago, saw its enrollment fall to its lowest level since 2007.

However, the Richland WSU campus has the largest freshman class in school history and the most diverse student body in the WSU system.

University officials attributed the enrollment decline to the loss of non-degree-seeking students who recently saw changes in the tuition programs offered by their employers.

WSU Tri-Cities is looking at ways to bring in more students, from undergraduates to working professionals.

w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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