The increase in enrollment at Eastern Gateway Community College is certainly welcome news and a sign that the school continues to attract students through adapting to the demands of the changing workplace.
Enrollment at the Jefferson County campus, the birthplace of the multicounty system through its years as Jefferson Technical and later Jefferson Community College, was up 2 percent for the fall semester, at 1,261 students. The enrollment for the system overall, including its centers at Warren and Youngstown, stands at 2,816 for the fall, a record for the institution that serves Jefferson, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. That's an 11 percent increase over the fall of 2012, and a big jump from the 3 percent increase that was recorded for spring and summer this year.
Roughly half are full-time students, and new student enrollment is up by 29 percent compared with fall of 2012.
The Valley Center in Youngstown has experienced the largest increase, rising 52 percent fall over last fall.
The numbers show the needs of the job marketplace, and for students planning to spend at least their first two years close to home, are being met. The improving enrollment beyond Jefferson County reveals that the school is successfully expanding what it already has provided for decades in Jefferson County - a solid local alternative to heading off to a four-year school right off the bat, a solid job training and re-training institution for older students and a vital part of the economic vitality of the area by changing curriculum constantly to meet the needs of the region's employers.
That ability of EGCC to learn and shift quickly is seen in the number of programs and courses added to create the natural gas and oil technology certificate, for example, and to resurrect and modernize other industrial programs that had fallen by the wayside when heavy industry was ailing.
We salute EGCC for providing a light that shows what can happen when academia works with the private sector, and to pay attention to the needs of its local students, to fulfill educational needs.