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Minnesota West enrollment rising

Minnesota West Community and Technical College students reconnect on the college's Worthington campus on Monday, the first day back in session following the summer vacation. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — There was more activity at Minnesota West Community and Technical College Monday than the same time last year.

The first day of the semester at the college’s five campuses and learning center in Luverne was met with an enrollment projected to be on an upward trend.  

According to Amber Luinenburg, Minnesota West director of marketing, enrollment and communications, fall 2017 enrollment campus-wide is projected to be up 3 percent from the fall 2016 semester. This includes a 4 percent to 4½ percent projected enrollment increase on the Worthington campus.

“We are really proud of our enrollment numbers,” Luinenburg said. “We’re seeing a lot of our counterparts showing negative enrollment, so we’re really proud that we’re continuing to grow in enrollment.”

As of Monday, 2,208 students were enrolled in one of the college’s 60-plus degree programs, including 1,518 students taking one or more classes online.

Most popular degree programs this semester college-wide include liberal arts, practical nursing, business management, associate degree nursing and powerline technology.

Luinenburg added that the college is serving students from 39 states and 10 countries.

Enrollment numbers will not be finalized until next week, as students have the opportunity to add and drop classes before the first week concludes.

The college has some new and exciting changes this year, especially for students interested in carpentry and powerline technology disciplines.

For the first time since 2014, students interested in carpentry will have the opportunity to learn the hands-on trade at Minnesota West’s Pipestone campus. The program, which was suspended due to low enrollment numbers, is being reintroduced this fall by a collaborative effort between Minnesota West, Pipestone City Economic Development Authority and Pipestone Area Schools.

“They saw a lack of workforce in the construction area,” Luinenburg said.

Luinenburg said the neat thing about the program is that the Pipestone Area High School will allow its students to take the program as a dual-credit course — allowing them to earn high school and college credit.

There are also changes on the college’s Jackson campus.

This year’s powerline technology students are the first to be instructed in a new $2.55 million, 7,244 square foot indoor training facility.

“It’s definitely start-of-the-art,” Luinenburg said. “This will allow (students) to learn the trade year-round in a more conducive environment.”

Enrollment in the powerline technology program increased 30 percent from last year, Luinenburg said.

An Aug. 30 ribbon cutting will be hosted in the afternoon, in conjunction with the Minnesota Legislature bonding tour.

Luinenburg said the college will also be working toward new goals throughout the year, as outlined in a new strategic plan.

The college is also hoping more students will take advantage of its daily busing service between the Worthington and Jackson campuses. The free service was introduced last fall.

“We didn’t want transportation to be a limitation for education, and we saw a need,” Luinenburg said.