07/16/10 — Community college sees record enrollment

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Community college sees record enrollment

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 16, 2010 1:46 PM

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Troy Herring

Instructors Susan Stover-Faison, left, and Jessica Giles go over forms as student applicants take a freshman placement test at Wayne Community College early Thursday. This week began the busy registration period for the college.

Hordes of young people packed the halls at Wayne Community College this week as a record number of students arrived to register for the fall semester. Many waited in line to go through the registration process or to sign up for classes.

"Looks like another record-breaking semester," said Tara Humphries, the college's public information officer, as she looked over the crowded main administrative building. "We're going to have a huge year."

Ms. Humphries helped preside over the open registration, which had high school graduates and transfer students signing up for classes in unprecedented numbers.

Open registration is normally reserved for new students and transfers, but some of the older students may have missed their deadlines and had to come wait in line too, said Michelle Dixon, secretary of humanities and social science as well as secretary of public services at the college.

"There are people everywhere," said Peggy Teague, vice president of academic services, as she helped guide new students to their registration areas.

To keep things orderly, Wayne administrators asked students to file into a conference room upon arriving, where they could sit and watch golf on a large overhead screen as they awaited their turn to sign up for the classes they wanted.

Ms. Humphries said the college had a total of 3,721 registered students at the end of last year's fall semester, but the college already has had 1,588 students pre-register for the upcoming year -- and that was before the huge turnout on Wednesday, which was only the first day of open registration.

Open registration will be held again July 19 from 1 to 7 p.m., July 20 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 17 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Aug. 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"I thought I did good by getting here at eight o'clock," Christy Hutcherson, a new transfer student at Wayne, said around lunchtime. "It's a long process."

Ms. Hutcherson is transferring from Mount Olive College, where she has spent the past two years studying pre-nursing.

"I came to Wayne because it's closer to home," she said. "I'm hoping to further my position in health care, and I just think Wayne is a great college."

Ms. Hutcherson said she is hoping to register for some chemistry, computer science and psychology classes to help with her nursing.

"I'm just coming back for my education," said Donna Jones, who recently enrolled in Wayne to complete her degree. "I'm just trying to get more."

Mrs. Jones currently works in the Greene County school system with student nutrition, but said she still wants to finish what she started with her education.

"I never finished my two-year degree," she explained. "I have everything but my math credit."

She said she started out at Wayne and decided she would finish there this year.

Among the transfers, however, were a lot of freshly graduated high school students just beginning their college careers.

"It's ... been a long wait," Ryan Hall said as he stood around waiting with his friends, adding that they had been there about four hours.

Some students, Ms. Teague said, came just long enough to get their numbers, then left for two or three hours to run errands or get food.

Most of the students still made it back in plenty of time to register, but just in case, the administrators held their places in line.

"There's no point in wasting students' time," Ms. Teague said, adding that she understood students' frustration with the long process.

While she and Ms. Humphries were pleased with the turnout, Ms. Teague also said that some of the long lines are partly the result of missed opportunities. New students were allowed to register early at a special orientation session earlier in the summer, she said, but many didn't take advantage of the opportunity.

Accepting responsibility as adult students is going to be vital to new students' success at Wayne Community, she said. Otherwise, students will not be able to get the classes they want, meet financial aid deadlines or make the grades they need to transfer or graduate.

"Paying on time is important," Ms. Teague added. "If they don't pay tuition on time, they'll be dropped and they'll have to go through the process all over again."

For those who register in July, tuition is due Aug. 5 by 4 p.m. Those who register in August must pay by Aug. 18 at 4 p.m.

Classes begin Aug. 19.