Enrollment at Tyler Junior College exceeded 10,000 students this fall, marking a milestone in the college’s history.
“Exceeding 10,000 students in a semester is exhilarating,” said TJC President Dr. William Crowe in a press release issued Friday.
According to the press release, the official enrollment of 10,021 students surpasses last year’s enrollment of 9,535 by more than 5 percent.
“I think this enrollment growth trend’s going to continue for a while,” said Crowe. “It’s a trend across the country. Two-year colleges are really becoming much more the institution of choice for students to start their higher education careers.”
Crowe credits several factors for contributing to the recent enrollment growth, citing TJC’s affordable price, quality education, opportunities for student involvement and the college’s small campus setting.
“You walk on our campus and it doesn’t look like you’re in a shopping mall or some other place. You feel like you’re at college,” said Crowe.
In the last three years, the college has made efforts to extend its boundaries to allow for future growth by purchasing an approximately 3.5 acre tract of land to the west of campus as well as an area of about four city blocks on the east side of the campus. The land purchases will provide additional on-campus housing with the new Joseph Z. and Louise H. Ornelas Residential Complex now under construction as well as space for potential future construction.
“Obviously if we keep growing at 5 percent, we’re going to have to add some classroom spaces, some parking,” said Crowe.
Maintaining an open access policy in its admissions is one of TJC’s traditions, said Crowe. However, continuously rising enrollment numbers would necessitate hiring new teachers to keep the student-teacher ratio low.
“We’re committed to keeping our class sizes where they are,” said Crowe.
Despite the physical challenges of accommodating a continuously growing student body, Crowe sees the burgeoning enrollment as an opportunity for TJC.
“It will help student life because we have more students and hopefully more students will want to get involved,” said Crowe. “I think we’re a pretty good way yet from losing a small campus feel.”
TJC opened as part of the Tyler public school system in 1926 with an enrollment of 93 students. Official enrollment numbers are reported on the twelfth day of class.
“We’ve been talking about [reaching] 10,000 students for several years and to get there feels good,” said Crowe.