College enrollment jumps locally and statewide

Thursday, January 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Even during the bad economy, business is booming at local colleges and universities. In fact, much of that is "because" of the bad economy.

As News on 6 reporter Steve Berg explains, higher education in Tulsa means higher enrollment. The "spring" semester at the OSU campus in Tulsa is aptly named. With nearly 400 more students springing up since this time last year.

The sagging economy is forcing people to seek new skills or better skills. But that's just part of the reason. Dr. Gary Trennepohl, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa president, "Because we're a startup operation, it's more than that, it's the fact that we're now offering the OSU degree here in Tulsa in a wider variety of areas and especially increasing in the undergraduate degree area." In other words, they say, the programs are so new that people are just catching on. And catching on in a big way.

It's a similar story at the new Northeastern campus in Broken Arrow. They've only been open since last fall, and already they say they may run out of room. Dr. Larry Williams, Northeastern State University president, "For the fall term for example, I think we all talked about maybe 700 kids, 700 students, 800 maybe, that number just kept climbing and climbing."

In the past year, OSU-Tulsa has seen a 30% jump in the number of students. Northeastern State, 28%. Even at Tulsa Community College, which already had a huge enrollment, they still posted a double-digit jump. Statewide, the average is only around 5%.

At Northeastern State, they say much of their increase came "this" spring, when enrollment usually dips. Dr. Larry Williams, "In higher education, that's just almost unheard of, we never do that, you never increase from the fall term to the spring term."

Colleges say it's a simple lesson of supply and demand. And they say the demand is clearly there.