The first week of school can seem overwhelming to incoming freshmen at Fullerton College. The Quad littered with students taking a break in between classes, the lines of petitioners requesting add codes and the dog-eat-dog rush to find parking all paints a picture of a campus that is overflowing in capacity.
This may be new for them but for the veterans on campus it’s an old portrait they are tired of looking at. What may seem as crowded inconvenience, is actually a positive thing for the school.
Fullerton College was ranked number one for the fastest community college enrollment growth with 24,301 students, surpassing over a thousand community colleges across the nation from 2012 to 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“It’s a great feather in our hat for Fullerton College to be number one,” said Lisa McPheron, director of campus communications.
Fullerton saw a 23.8 percent enrollment increase from 2012 to 2013, a 4,677 student population difference between the two years.
Out of the top 50 of the fastest-growing colleges, the first 8 out of 10 were in California, according to the “Fastest-Growing Community College Rankings” published by Community College Week. California colleges were the top in the state in enrollment trends.
This is due to California’s 2012 Proposition 30, a sales and income tax increase initiative that provided $800 million in state funding to be divided amongst the 112 community colleges in California.
The funding helped Fullerton provide more Saturday classes for students and bottleneck courses like chemistry, which further increased enrollment.
“Additional state funding gave us the support to offer more classes. But it was the shared commitment by faculty, staff and the administration that allowed the college to create and strengthen services that support students,” said Rajen Vurdien, Fullerton College president.
For the 2013 to 2014 school year the college continued to grow with an 18.6 percent spike in student enrollment which brought the total enrollment to roughly 28,821 students.
Fullerton’s high enrollment rate didn’t occur out of a coincidence.
“It’s not like we went from one day to another and became much bigger, it was strategic and planned out to increase our student headcount,” McPheron said.
There could be many factors contributing to the growth of enrollment. For example, Fullerton’s proactive approach of being at the forefront of establishing new programs. McPheron recalled a time when the state requested the colleges to create new programs for the AA-T and AS-T transfer degrees.
“We launched them as early as we could, it shows a willingness to be proactive and I think you can see our growth trends through it,” McPheron said.
According to McPheron, the campus plans to slow down the enrollment growth rate to five percent for next year in an effort to ensure it accommodates and serves its students properly.
More student enrollment equals more funding from the government, which in turn provides for better resources for students, McPheron added.