Spring numbers please college: Enrollment turning upward after declines | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Spring numbers please college: Enrollment turning upward after declines

William Ferchland

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / More students decided to attend Lake Tahoe Community College this quarter to the delight of officials weary of past enrollment drops they attributed to fee increases by the state.

Last week Lori Gaskin was a bit unsure of the numbers, uncertain whether she should hold hope.

This week affirmed Lake Tahoe Community College’s ever-important enrollment numbers have reached close to prior heights thanks to burgeoning classes such as real estate, dance and, yes, even sewing.

Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs and student services, reported Monday spring enrollment is 8.9 percent above enrollment compared to last spring quarter. In addition, the 3,430 students enrolled in spring classes so far is the most for the college this school year.

After an enrollment peak in the 2002-03 school year of 11,736 students – which had 3,646 students in spring quarter – consecutive fee hikes by the state to help cover a fiscal crisis likely priced out or deterred students from taking classes. Those students might have since grown accustomed to the higher fees and returned to school, Gaskin said.

Typically fall has the highest grossing enrollment. Student enrollment for fall 2004 was 3,214 while winter dropped to 3,083.

As part time students are credited most with the boom, popular classes have mirrored the interests of casual students or, in the case of real estate classes, the economic conditions of Lake Tahoe.

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Fifty to 60 students have enrolled in the real estate program, Gaskin said, while the dance section is healthy and another unit of sewing had to be added.

But other classes have not fared so well. The culinary arts program has fewer students and the German language course is faltering.

“While we canceled some classes and some areas are not having really healthy enrollment,” Gaskin said, “overall we seem to be showing a slight rebound so we’re delighted about that.”

Tucked in an office to the side of the culinary arts kitchen, David Jones, laboratory specialist, said the classes involving food tasting are doing well.

To bring more of the community into classes, Jones said the culinary arts program is looking to integrate with the wilderness studies program to offer an outdoor cooking class in the fall. Cake decorating is also a fall possibility.

Steve Fernald, the culinary arts professor, said he might offer more introductory culinary classes and integrate culinary arts into other disciplines.

Yet Fernald cites last year as the best for the program. He referred to his sabbatical taken this year, a lackluster economy and higher consumer prices as factors in the decline.

Students are still able to register for full-length classes until Friday.