Celebrating a record year School: Anne Arundel Community College reached an all-time high in enrollment in 1996-1997 and offered cake and prizes on the main quad to start 1997-1998.

September 18, 1997|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

More people in Anne Arundel have been heading off to community college in recent years, according to Anne Arundel Community College enrollment figures, which reached an all-time high in the 1996-1997 school year.

The college celebrated yesterday with an afternoon bash on the main quad of the Arnold campus, raffling prizes and serving cake as students signed up for school clubs.

The school's enrollment rose to 8,920, a number that does not reflect the total number of students on campus but is equivalent to 8,920 students taking full-course loads for two semesters. Some students only take a class or two.

Enrollment has increased from a low of 8,045 in the 1992-1993 school year.

Final enrollment for this school year will not be known until July.

Many of the new students have returned to school to acquire new skills, typically those required for jobs in science and industry, said President Martha Smith. "We're keeping up with the times," she said.

Sha Deyhim, 20, moved to the United States from France a year ago. "I hate school, but I need to be here," he said. "You can't succeed without it."

Of course, he's also here for the girls, he said.

He spent the afternoon recruiting women for his computer club using lines like, "Are you lost?" and "We need girls in [the] club because we need boys to join."

By midafternoon, the club still had a membership of four, including Deyhim and his partner.

Many students, such as Jason Meredith, 22, took time off after high school but found the real world a little too harsh and their skills a little too common.

"I want to get my education because I don't want to dig ditches my whole life," Meredith said, as he signed up for AmeriCorps, the volunteer community service program. He's been working his way toward a degree since 1994.

A few simply like to learn. Shawn Hughart, 21, spent the past several years acting in New York before moving to the county.

"I came for self-fulfillment," he said, keeping watch at the Amaranth Literary Club table. "I didn't enjoy learning in high school but in college, there are more options. You can pick what you want to take and head toward areas you want to grow in."

Some students are adults looking to make a change in careers.

Sue Williams, 42, was working in the Psychology Club booth.

She went to college years ago on a basketball scholarship. Later, she developed an interest in youth psychology. Without clinical training, she took a job as a veterinarian technician.

"I just thought it was about time I did something with my life -- something I want to do as opposed to something I have to do," she said.

Smith said the school has adapted its curriculum and format to encourage more people to start or return to college.

Last year, when school officials heard that some nearby industries were having difficulty finding qualified workers, the school began offering computer and industry training classes.

"Higher education is not a luxury anymore," Smith said. "It's a necessity. It used to be that people would go back to get a degree, but now it's lifelong learning and creative thinking skills."

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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