Fall classes begin at Kenai Peninsula College Monday. The official number of students isn’t known yet, with fall schedules still being amended. But the number continues to inch closer to 3,000.
KPC’s Advancement Programs Manager, Suzie Kendrick, says while the rest of the University of Alaska system has seen enrollment drop, its outposts on the Kenai are fairing a bit better, seeing an increase of about one percent.
“That’s over the whole KPC system. We were really happy with that, just because if you look at all of the (university) locations statewide, enrollment is down about six to seven percent. We’re (Kenai River Campus) down about 0.3 percent, but that is a very fluid number with the last minute folks coming in and everything getting finalized. Overall, if you’re asking me, who’s been here for 17 years, given the current economic climate I think we’re doing really well.”
She credits KPC’s better enrollment trends to the local courses and programs tailored for local needs, but also smaller campuses, which can serve some students better than their larger, four year counterparts elsewhere. But the college’s online programs are also growing all the time.
“Online classes are growing at UAA, UAF, UAS. But we’ve been doing it longer and we have maintained a smaller class size, so student satisfaction tends to be high. And students talk. And students rate professors. And I believe that has been a precursor to our continued success, or at least leveling out so we’re not losing people.”
All that despite some out-migration from the peninsula the past few years, which also means fewer high school graduates to draw from. Kendrick says the college’s biggest selling point is its role in getting people halfway to any four year degree, and those associate programs are becoming more refined.
“We are really focusing. We have a new education professor who hopefully will revitalize our elementary ed program. Our nursing program has just expanded. Our paramedic class is very popular. And, we revitalized our nursing aid class, so we really feel like we’re trying to listen to the community’s needs. We have to be responsive. It’s going to be an exciting year and we’re going to continue to do our best for students.”
KPC graduated more than 125 students this spring, with associates, bachelors and general education degrees.