Economy brings ‘older’ students

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 24, 2015

Non-traditional students in the 35-49 age bracket made up a smaller percentage of LBW Community College’s total enrollment than in recent years.

The 35-49 age group accounted for 13 percent of enrollment for 2009 and 2010, and then decreased to 12 percent in 2011, 10 percent in 2012, 9 percent in 2013 and 8 percent in 2014, according to LBWCC’s institutional research department. The institutional research department also discovered that the 50 and over age group consistently ranged from 3-4 percent since 2009.

LBWCC Dean of Student Affairs Jason Jessie said an increase or decrease in the number of adults enrolling is contingent on how the economy is doing.

“When the economy is bad, adults return to school,” Jessie said, adding that it’s the inverse if the economy is good.

The enrollment numbers in 2009 came as a result of the recession, which started in 2008.

“As they lost their jobs or needed additional training, they came to LBWCC to either get started toward a college degree, complete a credential or pick up classes to help them gain better employment marketability,” LBWCC Spokesperson Reneé LeMaire said. “As the economy started showing signs of improvement and more jobs became available, enrollment for this age group started declining.”

Last fall, 131 students age 35-49 enrolled, and 40 students aged 50 and over enrolled.

Jessie said older students coming back to get their degrees is one of the reasons community colleges exist.

“We want to help our community and meet the needs of the workforce of its citizens,” he said. “If adults need to return to school, that’s what we’re here for and happy to provide.”

-Andrew Garner