It’s back to school for Clark College, as the Vancouver school welcomed about 12,000 students and launched several new programs for the fall quarter.
The school was abuzz with students Monday afternoon, the first day of class, some reconnecting with old friends, others peering at the campus directories to find their next class. Though official enrollment numbers won’t be released until the 10th day of class, Clark College in an early estimate announced 12,055 students enrolled, down slightly from last year’s 12,099 students.
Among them were Lily Ray, Moriah Sisco and Joshua Bambill, who huddled and chatted between their classes. The three River HomeLink juniors are in the Running Start program, which allows high school juniors and seniors to take college classes and complete an associate degree for free while still enrolled in high school. Clark College, which has the largest Running Start class in the state, saw a 2 percent increase in its enrollment for the program to a record 2,484 students.
Bambilla, 16, said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put himself ahead through the free educational opportunity.
“I think it’s a good transition into the real world,” he said.
Sisco hopes she’ll be able to “knock out” the harder classes early before transferring to a four-year college after she graduates.
“Running Start helps you choose a career path early,” she said.
The college this year is also introducing some new programs, including its revamped culinary program as the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Culinary Institute prepares to open its doors in November. Entry-level classes have begun this quarter, however.
The college spent four years updating its culinary curriculum, and with the relaunch will become the “only nonprofit culinary institute within 120 miles,” college spokeswoman Hannah Erickson said.
“We’re very excited to have that back,” she said.
The college will also begin its first full academic year for its bachelor’s degree of applied science in applied management, the second bachelor’s degree offered by the school, as well as a rural mechatronics program.
The college also announced the opening of its Penguin Pantry in the Science Building, a food pantry for students who need access to nonperishable food and hygiene supplies.
About half the campus’ students are lower-income, according to the college’s Office of Planning and Effectiveness.
“We know the need is there,” Erickson said. “We just firmly believe that hunger and food insecurity should not be what keeps students from achieving their best academically.”