BRECKENRIDGE - Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge recorded a 45 percent increase in enrollment this fall after it opened a cutting-edge, $14 million building.
"It is as we anticipated," said Alton Scales, CMC Summit Campus dean and CEO. "We were looking at two factors playing a role."
He said new sites have traditionally led to enrollment increases at CMC campuses, and a down-turned national economy "also supports growth of community colleges."
Enrollment at the Summit Campus, which includes a site in Dillon, increased 14.6 percent relative to fall 2008. The Breckenridge site near the intersection of Coyne Valley Road and Colorado 9 has 1,032 students enrolled this fall - up from 712 at the former site near downtown Breckenridge.
Student numbers include both part- and full-time.
"We would expect the trend to continue," Scales said, adding that more courses will be starting later in the school year.
Across the CMC chain, enrollment this fall is up 9.2 percent.
Though economic recession may cause people to enroll at community colleges to save money, it also causes more people to go back to school.
Both the University of Colorado and Colorado State University have noticed slight enrollment increases this fall.
CSU has a record 25,413 students - including undergraduate, graduate and veterinary medicine - which is up 1.6 percent over 2008.
"We have seen a jump in enrolling Colorado resident transfers this year," said Jim Rawlins, CSU executive director of admissions, adding that about 150 more Colorado residents transferred to the university from other institutions.
He said that with "more students than ever" attending Colorado community colleges, the number of transfers is expected to increase in the next few semesters.
At CU-Boulder, fall enrollment hit 29,900 - up 1 percent over last year.
"In recent years we've seen slight increases in transfers we get from Colorado's community colleges," CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. "There is quite a lot of interest in building strong relationships with community colleges around the state as feeders for all CU campuses."
Scales said he's heard positive feedback from students regarding the improved facilities at CMC Breckenridge.
"The demeanor of students is nicer," he said. "There are places for them to congregate - something we didn't have at the other facility. It just makes it a much more collegiate experience."
The building's foyer is framed in part by large windows, and a cyber cafe provides a place for students to relax and socialize.
Completed shortly before fall semester began, the building was created to maximize energy efficiency through solar panels, lighting and design attributes.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.