Vail Valley college booms during recession |

Vail Valley college booms during recession

Taylor L. Roozen
Vail Valley, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Few industries have improved during the economic recession, but community colleges such as the Colorado Mountain College’s Vail Valley campus, have seen increased enrollment this year.

Many people are turning to the kind of professional training that is provided at Colorado Mountain College, said Dean Peggy Curry, of the Edwards branch.

“We were surprised by enrollment increases, but it makes sense since we are providing more career courses,” she said.

Enrollment rates are up across the board at Colorado Mountain College campuses, said Debra Crawford, public information officer for the school’s central service office in Glenwood Springs.

English-as-a-second-language programs have seen increased enrollment as people realize that it is easier to compete for jobs with a fluent tongue, Curry said. It is both helpful for keeping existing positions and getting new jobs.

Re-certification courses, like emergency medical technician and work safety courses, have also been busy at the Eagle Valley campus as employers have found it less expensive to train their employees nearby than to send them to bigger cities like Denver, she said.

People who need training for new jobs are also hunting for associates degrees, she said. The school’s paramedic program is one such course that has seen increased enrollment.

The college also works with the Work Force Center in Edwards to help people who are out of work by focusing on the skills they have and skills they might acquire, she said.

Due to the federal economic stimulus, there is incentive for people to seek this type of training while the government is helping to pay for tuition.

People are trying to gain skills while they are between jobs, she said.

Summer courses generally have lower enrollment rates, but even that number is up 19 percent this summer due to demand for professional training. Summer courses that can be transferred for university credits have increased by 50 percent this year, she said.

This is a result both of the dual enrollment program, which allows regional high school students to earn college credit before they graduate, and increased attendance by high school graduates, she said.

“More people want to … get as much (education) as they can before they go to a university,” she said.

Even activities such as palates, dance, rock climbing, and fine arts have seen increased enrollment, Curry said.

Crawford said online courses have gone up by almost 8 percent as people are trying to cut down on commuting costs.

The desire for community college courses has yielded a bit of a win for Colorado Mountain College, Curry said, “but hopefully it’s an even bigger win for people who can get back into the job market.”

She hopes to encourage people who are having a hard time finding work to visit the school so that its academic advisors can help people with their career goals.

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