While most schools and businesses struggle in these tough times, College of the Desert is thriving. Enrollment is up 13.5% and soon a new COD campus will open its doors.
“We have lots of students,” said COD’s interim vice president of instruction Bill Kelly. “Most classes are full.”
Educators say the weak economy is to thank for the sudden surge.
“When people are out of jobs, they want to go to school to get re-trained,” Kelly explained
As California universities cut back on enrollment, more students are turning to community colleges like College of the Desert. While the school in Palm Desert struggles to fit students in full classrooms, it is putting the final touches on a new campus.
The Mecca-Thermal campus will help reduce crowded conditions in Palm Desert and give more people access to a college education.
The campus offers 10 classes with most of them completely full. The first day will welcome nearly 300 students, which is twice the amount educators expected. While this is good news for college growth, there is a down side.
“We can only grow to a certain point with enrollment,” COD’s Dean of the East Valley Center Juan Lujan explained. “If we go beyond that, the state won’t fund us.”
At the rate COD is growing, next year could be tough with too many students and not enough money.
“The old saying, â€˜if you build it they will come’ — that is true,” says Kelly.
As more students come to College of the Desert, the campuses will continue growing. Educators hope funding will do the same.
The first day of classes at the Mecca-Thermal campus is February 24th. Offices at the school are set to open on February 10th. At that time students can enroll, apply, and take placement tests. The school will also hold a public grand opening celebration on February 7th.