Texas Students Turn to Community Colleges

The economic slowdown that began in 2008 had diverted many students from the job market to school, especially community college campuses, for further education or retraining.

That trend is evident in the fall 2010 enrollment numbers for the nation’s colleges and universities. In Texas, the nation’s second-largest state, four community college systems are among the 20 higher-education institutions with the largest enrollments.

Houston Community College, with about 60,000 enrolled, saw an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2009 to 2010. Lone Star Community College, based in The Woodlands, Texas, showed a 17 percent spike in its 2010 student head count, Tarrant County Community College, which includes Fort Worth, reported enrollment gains in 2010 of 10.7 percent. Austin Community College had the 20th largest student head count in fall 2010. Its 44,100 enrollment was a 9.6 percent increase over the previous year.

Two of the Lone Star State’s four-year public universities also are among the institutions with the largest enrollments, but their enrollment increases were minimal compared with their state’s community colleges. The University of Texas at Austin had 51,195 students, an increase of less than 4/10ths of 1 percent. Texas A&M University in College Station had a fall 2010 headcount of 49,129, an increase of less than 1 percent compared with 2009’s enrollment of 48,702.

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