City Colleges see spike in student enrollment

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Staff Writer
  • August 25, 2009 @ 6:00 AM

The number of new students is surging at the City Colleges of Chicago, with three campuses reporting 17 percent more full-time students than last fall, internal enrollment data shows.

The preliminary data, current as of Friday, does not reflect last-minute signups over the weekend or this week; classes at the City Colleges started yesterday. The figures tend to fluctuate during the first week of school, officials say, because many students add and drop classes as they adjust their schedules.

Just between Friday and Saturday, more than 200 additional full-time students signed up at Truman College, spokesman Clifton Daniel says. That brings Truman’s enrollment up by nearly 25 percent compared to this time last year. The college had predicted enrollment gains of 4 percent to 5 percent.

“I’m expecting even more of a gain because it was as busy as I’ve seen it in 11 years here,” Daniel says. He calls the jump in enrollment “astounding.”

The preliminary enrollment data shows strong signs of a common trend in recessions: Many people go back to school to learn new job skills or to keep busy after being laid off.

The biggest full-time enrollment gains are at Malcolm X, Truman and Wright colleges, with each reporting enrollment numbers up at least 17 percent. Districtwide, those numbers are helping drive total full-time enrollment upward more than 12 percent, to nearly 25,000 students by Friday. Another 10,000 students across the district are enrolled part-time, a smaller number than at this time last year.

Though the enrollment numbers are strong, they vary widely from campus to campus. At Daley College, enrollment is up just 3 percent, or 81 more students this fall compared to last fall. At Olive-Harvey, enrollment is up less than 5 percent, with 76 more students than last fall.

Wright and Harold Washington have the largest populations, each with about 5,400 full-time students. Harold Washington’s enrollment so far this fall is up 11 percent.

“Enrollment is up, I can tell you that,” spokeswoman Elsa Tullos says.

Even though classes started yesterday, students can still enroll online through the end of this week.


Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.