Community colleges due for more full-time students by 2008, report predicts

Change projected because of tighter requirements to enter 4-year schools

April 29, 1999|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

Tightening admission standards at the University of Maryland, College Park and other state four-year institutions will dramatically increase enrollments of full-time students at community colleges over the next decade, according to projections presented to the Maryland Higher Education Commission yesterday.

The numbers, which show the impact of the children of baby boomers reaching college age, call for the total head count at state schools to rise by 15 percent -- or 32,500 students -- by 2008.

The report, prepared by the commission's staff, predicts 133,465 students will be at state four-year institutions and 118,133 at two-year schools by that year. "This is more than 3,000 students above the forecast for the 1998-2007 period last year and primarily reflects anticipated increases in full-time undergraduates at community colleges due to the `baby boom echo,' " it said.

Under previous conditions, most of those 3,000 would be absorbed into the four-year campuses of the University System of Maryland. But with UMCP planning to hold steady at slightly less than 25,000 undergraduates, and with Bowie State and Salisbury State keeping enrollments down to raise the academic quality of entering classes, those students will be forced to find other places.

Many will end up in community colleges, the report predicts. The numbers at these schools will rise by 13 percent by 2008, but their full-time students -- mainly those pursuing traditional undergraduate degrees -- will go up by 29 percent, from 32,749 in the fall of 1998 to 42,199 a decade later.

Charlene Nunley, president of the two-year Montgomery College, said she has noticed the impact of raised standards at UMCP, where many Montgomery County high school graduates expect to go to college. "For the first time in something like 10 years, the average age of our student body went down this year," she said, indicating that was because of the growing enrollment of students just out of high school who were denied admission to UMCP.

Nunley was presenting a plan to the commission for University System schools to offer junior and senior undergraduate courses during the day at the system's Shady Grove center, a facility mainly used by adult students at night. She said this would allow Montgomery County students not able to go to UMCP to get degrees close to home.

The report also calls for large increases in Baltimore-area four-year schools in the University System, with Towson University growing by 35 percent to more than 21,000 students, the University of Baltimore by 37 percent to more than 6,300 and Coppin State College by 34 percent to more than 5,000 in the next decade.

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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