Elgin Community College and McHenry County College both welcomed record numbers of new students Monday, another probable symptom of hard times during the Great Recession.
ECC had to open overflow parking lots to handle the student influx. MCC used local police officers to help prevent traffic jams.
ECC's total enrollment is up to 11,025 for the fall semester according to Dean of Student Services Carol Cowles. That number includes 2,451 incoming freshmen, an 8 percent jump form last year she said.
Meanwhile at MCC enrollment reached 6,480 students, including 1,890 fresmen, a 26 percent increase, according to spokeswoman Christina Haggerty.
Tony Miksa, MCC Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs said, "Community College cycles usually run opposite to the economy. We see a lot of students coming to us to retrain or upgrade their skills."
Cowles said ECC's nursing program, for example, is drawing new students who already have four-year liberal arts degrees.
Miksa said some of the increase is probably students looking to stretch their education dollars. "Some will just be taking their first two years here," before going on to a four year college. "The credits all transfer," he said, "and community college tuition is a real bargain."
In the pic: Parking lots were packed at ECC on the first day of classes Monday