Adult students driving college growth
Oklahoma adults seek college degrees during economic downturn
Oklahoma's colleges and universities have experienced record enrollment increases during recent years. Much of that growth has stemmed from the economy, said Cordell Jordan, a spokesman for Oklahoma City Community College.
Enrollment at OCCC has increased about 26 percent during the past two years, Jordan said.
Jordan, who also serves as an adjunct professor of business at OCCC, said about half of his students are nontraditional. He has also noticed many more traditional freshman students during recent years.
“The lines aren't as clear anymore,” Jordan said. “It isn't as traditional as it used to be.”
Community colleges typically attract more nontraditional students, but four-year schools have also experienced an increase in adult students during recent years.
The number of adult students at the University of Central Oklahoma increased from 78 in the fall of 2005 to 328 this fall. UCO classifies anyone who is 21 years or older who applies for undergraduate school as an adult student, said Myron Pope, vice president of enrollment management.
“With the job market the way it is, they know it's important to try to improve their skills,” Pope said.
Many colleges have added services to help nontraditional students, including distance learning programs, online courses and night and weekend classes. Without those services, many of today's students wouldn't be able to attend college.
UCO offers counseling, tutoring and other support services. The university also has increased the number of courses it offers electronically, Pope said.
Still, juggling classes and assignments is challenging for adults with careers or families.