Local News

Enrollment up at Wake Tech

Posted July 22, 2008 10:38 p.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2008 12:11 a.m. EDT

— Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh is experiencing record enrollment numbers as a weak economy and job losses send thousands of people back to school.

Adam Skelding, 38, ran his own residential design business for 10 years. That was until he says the market slowed, so he went back to school to become an engineer.

"I am a little more focused. A little more mature than I was 10 or 15 years ago,” Skelding said.

Whether people are looking for a change or struggling to learn new skills after a job loss, the troubled economy is paying off for Wake Tech.

It is people "from their 20's to their 60's that are coming back to us,” Wake Tech President Stephen Scott said.

Scott said there is nearly a 20 percent increase in fall enrollment over this time last year. Most people are taking classes to transfer to other universities. Some classes are so popular, administrators must get creative to find space for everyone.

Students are meeting in "public schools. We (also) use churches, we use chambers of commerce as classrooms,” Scott said.

Even the rising cost of gas is having an effect on how people are learning. Instead of traveling to a classroom, many people are deciding to take their courses online.

“Our summer enrollment was up significantly, but they weren't physically on the campuses. I said, 'well, where are the people?' And it turned out they were in online classes,” Scott said.

With the spike in enrollment, thousands of people who apply to classes in high-demand may not get a spot, Scott added.

Fall classes begin in mid-August. Of the students currently registered, 47 percent are in the university transfer program and 12 percent are in Health Sciences. The Simulation and Game Development program is among the hottest, with nearly double enrollment from last fall.