Tennessee community college enrollment has increased with the state Promise Scholarship availability. Many of the state’s 13 community colleges report increased student enrollment since the beginning of the academic year. Motlow State Community College boasts 20 percent increases, while Volunteer State Community College reports a 14 percent spike in enrollment.
The Tennessee Promise Scholarship requires students enroll full time in each semester, among other criteria. Administrators believe that full-time students have a greater path toward success.
“We’ve always struggled with getting our students, particularly with student’s right out of high school, to take more classes and graduate on time,” said Warren Nichols, vice chancellor of community colleges for the Tennessee Board of Regents.
The growth for community colleges is met with challenges. The influx of new students identifies a need for enhanced infrastructure, accommodations and parking accessibility for many campuses. Creative strategies of scheduling classes on Saturday and Sunday are underway at Motlow State’s Smyrna campus to alleviate crowded parking lots and buildings.
Four-year institutions within the state are also seeing the effect of the growth. Early enrollment numbers indicate that enrollment has decreased at many four-year schools in the state. The University of Tennessee at Martin saw a 13 percent drop in enrollment for the year.
“Those are the numbers. None of us are happy about it,” said UT System President Joe DiPietro. “The UT Martin community understands that everybody’s job is recruiting now.”