CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College is seeing a slight increase in the number of students this fall and students taking more credit hours, the college reported.
The number of students increased 1.3 percent – to 7,194 this fall from 7,104 in fall 2011. Credit hours, however, jumped 7.2 percent year over year – to 64,112 from 59,817.
“The reality is, it’s not all about money, it’s about education. But we charge students by the number of credit hours, and it’s important to track by the number of credit hours because it’s how we determine our revenue and the classes that we offer,” said Tony Miksa, the college’s vice president of academic and student affairs.
The growth is well beyond what was projected in a report prepared for the college’s facilities master plan.
It anticipated a 3 percent average growth each year to justify a $278.5 million expansion over the next decade.
“There are more than recent high school graduates attending McHenry County College,” President Vicky Smith said. “That is born out by the fact that this fall we have 7.2 percent more credit hours enrolled in than we had last fall.”
The facilities plan report used the rate of enrollment growth to determine how many square feet of building space the college will need for classrooms, offices and laboratories in the coming decades.
The newly released, positive numbers come after student enrollment dipped about 4 percent in recent semesters.
College officials say enrollment figures are leveling off after 2009’s Promise Program when MCC saw growth by about 30 percent.
“Last year was the first year without that big bulk of students working their way through the system,” Miksa said.
It’s unclear whether MCC’s upward enrollment is in line with other Illinois community colleges. Enrollment figures are reported to the Illinois Community College Board, which prepares a report that should be available soon, Miksa said.
“I certainly don’t know for for sure, but I would venture to guess that MCC is one of a few schools up in enrollment,” he said.
The driver for the jump, college officials say, is new programs and degrees offered and changes in the way they are delivered, such as more flexible schedule options, including late-start courses and online classes.
“It’s absolutely great news for the college,” Miksa said. “What it shows is the new programs we’re putting out there, the new way we’re offering courses ... are making an impact on the ways students are able to take classes and move forward in getting their degree or certificate.”