Nearly 15,000 enroll as Clark College opens

Large student body continues trend

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



They had kind of a theme going Monday when the fall quarter started at Clark College.

“There’s a line just to get into a line at the bookstore,” freshman Samir Idriss said while talking with friends.

It was the Mountain View High School graduate’s first day at Clark, and he chalked up the crowds as part of his introduction to college.

A few minutes later, Shaun Dudgeon was heard to say: “You have to get into a line, just so you can get into a line.”

Dudgeon is not a Clark College rookie. He’s starting his third year in Clark’s welding program.

“I’ve never seen it this full,” said the Orchards resident, who also earned his GED at Clark College.

It’s reflection of continuing growth at Clark. The community college reported a head count of 14,989 students Monday; that’s just slightly more than 2010’s opening-day total of 14,981 students who are taking at least one class.

It continues the trend in high enrollment the college has experienced since the 2008-2009 academic year. The 2009 spring quarter was the first time Clark reached 14,000.

Enrollment numbers typically climb during the year, and fall 2009 was the first time Clark reached the 16,000 mark by the end of a quarter.

Monday’s total includes 1,765 Running Start students who are taking college courses while finishing high school, an increase of 75 students from fall 2010. Clark College has the largest Running Start program in the state.

Tanner Meck is one of those Running Starters. His day began with two classes at Battle Ground High School, followed by a drive to Vancouver for history and English classes at Clark.

“Then I go to my job,” Meck said.

It’s worth it, he said, since the free Running Start credits will reduce his future college tuition costs.

And, “they say the teachers here care about your academic achievement,” Meck added.

Tammy Hilgendorf, in her second year of Running Start, said she has noticed a different learning environment at Clark.

“People are serious about learning,” the Prairie High School senior said. “You get a lot of independence.”

Another link to higher-ed opportunity appeals to freshman Michelle Mitchell, who was talking with Idriss and fellow Mountain View graduate Gladys Marron. Clark College has co-admissions partnerships with Washington State University Vancouver as well as Portland State University, Marylhurst University and Concordia University in Oregon.

“I will be transferring to Marylhurst, and I know that I can take classes here and my credits will transfer,” said Mitchell, who is working toward a degree in music therapy.

Clark College also has established another academic partnership. Clark’s two-year degree in surveying and geomatics is now aligned to the four-year program at Oregon Technical Institute, the only such four-year program in the Pacific Northwest.

Clark College also is moving forward in projects and programs, school officials say. The college will host a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m. Thursday for its new Early Learning Center.

Work is under way on a Japanese garden, which is being created near the music building on Clark’s main campus. The Royce Pollard Japanese Friendship Garden is a gift from Chihiro Kanagawa, chief executive of Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., the parent company of SEH America.

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