Enrollment at Schenectady County Community College is the highest it has ever been this year, up 10 percent from fall of 2008 with both full and part-time students.
Each of our community colleges are facing strong enrollments, said Dr. Quinton Bullock, president of Schenectady County Community College. "A lot of this is driven by the economic downturn. People are seeking higher education, as well as work force education, to enhance their jobs searches as well as work performances at their jobs."
Shaquelle Thornton, 19, is a 2009 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School and is attending SCCC on a full scholarship and is enrolled in the college's culinary arts program. He said he hopes to become the head chef at someone else's restaurant, or to own his own someday. After he earns his associate's degree, he plans to transfer to a four-year school such as the Culinary Institute of America.
"When I took BOCES, we came here for a field trip, and we walked around the kitchens and saw all the cooks and what they were doing," said Thornton, who took culinary arts courses through BOCES for his senior year of high school.
Another factor in his decision was a meal he and his classmates ate during their visit that was prepared by students in the culinary arts program.
Currently, the college's most popular programs are its liberal arts program, with 400 enrolled students, a 42 percent increase compared to 2008; the culinary arts program, with 389, a 15 percent increase; the health studies certificate program, with 288 students, a 21 percent increase; business administration, with 263 students, an 11 percent increase; and criminal justice with 258 students, a 16 percent increase.
"It's early now for me to determine the number of people coming back for re-training," said Bullock, referring to people who might have already been in the workforce. "But our popular programs are seeing increased numbers in enrollment, which suggests people are entering into studies that offer employment at the end of their studies."