Early counts at Howard Community College show enrollment swelling more than 7 percent from the first day of school last fall, bumping the student body to a record 5,768, officials said yesterday.
Enrollment at the Columbia school grew by 4 percent last year over the previous year.
Classes started Monday. Administrators will do the official count of students at the end of the third week, after the deadline to add or drop courses.
More than the half the students - 3,111 - are younger than 23. About 1,220 are first-time freshmen, compared with 905 last fall.
Spokesman Randy Bengfort said some growth can be attributed to the 18 new academic programs the college began offering this semester, ranging from dance performance to e-commerce.
For most of the past decade, the number of students grew relatively slowly, in part because space is tight at the 31-year-old college. In recent years, administrators have added portable classrooms and tinkered with schedules so they could offer more classes, said Bengfort. Still, he said, fitting everyone in "has been a challenge."
Relief is expected in 2003, when a classroom building is to open.