Historically, when the economy is doing poorly, many return to school for a career change or to increase their education to become more desirable to employers. This can result in a spike in enrollment numbers at local community colleges.
Community colleges are ideal for returning students because of their flexible schedules, Internet courses and low cost to attend. Tyler Junior College is not immune to this trend.
“I’m pleased to see what’s happening with our population growth,” TJC Provost Homer M. Hayes said.
With enrollment at 11,045 students this semester, up from 9,600 students in the spring, TJC saw a large growth in student population.
As Provost, Hayes is responsible for all areas of TJC’s academics. If TJC had a ladder of hierarchy, the Provost would be right below the President of the college, and above all the vice presidents.
“I’m more concerned about scheduling classes to accommodate all of our students,” Hayes said.
This semester TJC did see an issue with scheduling classes for its students. The fall 2009 deadline for class scheduling was extended a week to allow students more time to get into the classes they needed. With the increase in student population comes concerns.
“We need to get more advisors to make sure students are getting into the classes they need to get into,” Hayes said.
Along with advisors, TJC is always looking for new faculty and adjunct faculty to maintain the quality of education that the college is known for. With more faculty, the college can offer more classes later in the day to prevent too many students from being on campus at the same time.
“We want to encourage students to spread their courses out during the day. They could come later in the afternoon, nights or we could start weekend classes. They could also take night classes, where they come for three hours a night, one night a week,” Hayes said.
Along with scheduling, housing all the students that want to stay on campus becomes difficult as well. Even with the new Louise H. and Joseph Z. Ornelas Residential Complex adding 462 beds to the already 1,062 existing beds, the supply of on-campus housing is still not enough.
“The main problem my department faced was running out of bedssooner,” Angels Nunez, director of Residential Life and Housing, said.
It is not out of the ordinary to fill all of the TJC dorms before the semester, but in the recent spring semester, Nunez had a waiting list of 100 people hoping to get a bed. In the current fall semester, her waiting list tripled.
“Some students were not able to attend this semester because they were unable to live on campus,” Nunez said.
Another issue that directly affects students attending is parking. The college has done some things to alleviate this dilemma, like the satellite campuses in Jacksonville and Lindale. These campuses allow students in areas outside of Tyler the opportunity to get a quality education closer to home and keep them from commuting to the main campus.
“The satellite campuses help parking o campus,” said Hayes.
TJC is not the only one experiencing parking issues due to an increase in student population. The Dallas County Community College District has taken some unique steps to ease parking issues.
“Some colleges were able to enlist the help of area churches or businesses to allow students and employees to use overflow parking; others used grassy areas for parking, ” Ann Hatch, Media Relations for the DCCCD, said. “Eventually, as everyone settled in for the semester, the parking situation has eased.”
The DCCCD has also asked faculty to park farther away from the buildings allowing students to utilize the faculty parking spaces. The DCCCD consists of seven individual colleges and has seen an 11.9 percent increase in their enrollment this semester bringing their total to 70,000 students.
“Fortunately, Dallas County voters approved a $450 million bond program in May 2004, so we already have been adding new buildings and facilities on each of our campuses,” Hatch said.
TJC students won’t see new classrooms being built in the near future, but plans are being made to add new buildings to the campus.
“The board passed a new master plan to see how we could add new facilities,” said Hayes.
Some of the new facilities mentioned were a building for the Apache Band, a new Allied Health and Nursing building, and more parking areas.
With this new growth will come change and TJC will adjust to the enrollment increase by making the necessary changes to accomodate all students.
“When I look at colleagues in California and Florida and other states, we are doing pretty good in Texas, others are turning students away,” said Hayes