Co-Lin celebrating high enrollment numbers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; The local campus of Copiah-Lincoln Community College has a good problem.

The addition of about 150 new students might make it harder to find a parking place or a seat in the classroom, but the increased enrollment is a good thing for the school, Dean Ronnie Nettles said.

This fall the college saw an 18 percent increase in enrollment as opposed to the normal 5 to 8 percent increase. Of the 907 students who started the fall semester, at least 900 have registered for the current semester. Final numbers will not be in until after six weeks of classes.

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&uot;We are excited about it,&uot; Nettles said. &uot;It is good for the community. People view us as an educational opportunity.&uot;

Since Co-Lin opened its new Natchez campus in 1996 the college has seen a steady increase, Nettles said. In 1997 enrollment was 692.

&uot;When we opened the new facility we started seeing significant enrollments,&uot; he said. &uot;I think the community realized the quality of the instructional programs here.&uot;

Nettles also attributed the increased enrollment to the local economic situation. Former workers at International Paper Mill have been given money to attend school and obtain new skills, he said.

To accommodate the new students all of the current faculty members are teaching one or two extra classes and no classes were canceled for low enrollment.

Elaine Thimmesch of Woodville is in her third year at Co-Lin and said she has noticed the change.

&uot;The more general classes, like English and psychology are full,&uot; she said. &uot;At the beginning of the fall there were more students than desks in some classes.&uot;

An average class size now is between 25-30 students, and Nettles does not want them to get larger.

&uot;They aren’t large enough to hold much more than that,&uot; he said. &uot;Community college education is about opportunity and providing access.&uot;

If enrollment continues to grow Nettles said the college would hire more adjunct faculty to accommodate the students.

Thimmesch said she was happy with the size right now but wouldn’t want the school to get much bigger.

&uot;It is good to have more students,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s OK here for now because the teachers can still talk to you on a one-on-one basis.&uot;