Colorado Mountain College enrollment grew slightly this fall | AspenTimes.com

Colorado Mountain College enrollment grew slightly this fall

John Colson
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Colorado Mountain College, which offers two-year degrees, four-year degrees and continuing-education courses to students in nine counties throughout the Colorado Rockies, was down to 20,400 students last year, according to a head count provided by the school.

That was 1,200 fewer students than the school had in the 2003-04 academic year and nearly 5,000 fewer than were enrolled in 2009-10, which was just as the effects of the recession of 2008-09 began making themselves felt nationally and internationally.

But during the same 10 years (2003 to 2013), while the official head count of students in CMC's classrooms rose rather dramatically through the middle of the decade and then fell steeply, the "full-time equivalent" number, which reflects the number of students taking a full-time credit load per semester, rose steadily with only periodic and much less dramatic declines in the years since the recession began.

Still, said CMC's community relations officer Deb Crawford, "We've generally been following the same trends other colleges have," although the comparison of full-time-equivalent students with the head count is an indication that "we have fewer students, but they're taking more courses."

As of Oct. 31, Crawford said, enrollment was up slightly on a collegewide basis, although this fall's numbers were not available because of the holiday break. Crawford said the slight rise is attributed, in part, to the college recently winning permission to offer four-year degrees as well as the traditional associate, two-year degrees.

"We are unusual," Crawford said in a recent interview. "We are the only community college in the state that has been allowed to offer these kinds of bachelor's degrees."

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The school also is unusual, Crawford said, because CMC appears to be either slowly increasing its enrollment or holding fairly steady while other higher-education institutions continue to decline in terms of student numbers. This, she said, is thanks in part to an older student body (the average student age at CMC is 37) and a wide range of nontraditional classes that add to an older student's depth of knowledge and job prospects.