PT enrollment higher than FT at 2-year colleges

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - A recent report released from the Arkansas Department of Education on Friday shows that for the first time ever, part-time student enrollment at 2-year colleges has surpassed full time enrollment.

Ozarka College in Melbourne and Black River Technical College's campuses lead the state in part-time enrollment according to the report.

Angie French has been pursuing an accounting degree for many years off and on.

"If you're committed, you'll hang in there. Sometimes you need to be part time. Sometimes students can be full time. It takes a little bit longer than full time."

French says that the people she takes classes with are a mix of full-time and part-time students.

French, "A lot of people need to work while they are attending school so they take part-time classes."

Black River President, Dr. Wayne Hatcher says over time the enrollment has changed at BRTC.

"Until recent years we were known for handling primarily the non-traditional student."

Hatcher says probably the economy has made a change with more younger,full time students taking classes.

However, many students like Angie French are trying to juggle work and an advanced education.

French, "I started in 2010 going full time while I was working and now I've kind of backed down to part-time."

BRTC works hard to accommodate student needs. Recently the Paragould campus has started Friday and Saturday classes for those that work. Also some classes like the hi-tech pipe welding class are geared so students can be done by noon and go to work.

Dr. Hatcher also says that the make-up of the two campuses is quite different.

Hatcher, "There tends to be more full-time students at the Pocahontas campus and more part-time students at the Paragould campus. We're located in an industrial area, our campus. So it's easier for students to finish their work, run up and take a couple of classes and then go home.

Hatcher also says the majority of students at Paragould work either full or part - time.

Scott Henson is going to school full-time in Pocahontas to be an electrician. A lot of his fellow students he says, are part-timers.

Henson, "It's a nine-month course and they have been in it three or four semesters, they are just taking their time and doing what they need to do and going to school."

French says for her, family has taken precedence over education.

French, "If I need to pursue full time for a while, I'll do that. But for right now, I just need to be part time."

And here are a few more numbers for you to think about.

Of the more than 175 Thousand students who enrolled in college last fall, 55 percent enrolled in public colleges, 35 percent went to two-year public colleges and the rest went to private colleges and universities.

About 30 percent of students in public 4-year colleges are part-time.

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