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Minnesota West enrollment rising again

(File photo)

WORTHINGTON — Enrollment at Minnesota West Community and Technical College is bouncing back upward and is at its highest campus-wide total since 2014.

According to fall enrollment data for the previous four years released by the college, a total of 1,519.2 traditional credit students (based on a credit hour calculation) are enrolled on one of the college’s five campuses and one learning center, or virtually.

While enrollment numbers have the tendency to continuously fluctuate throughout the year, this year’s totals are solidly higher than the previous three. Last year’s enrollment based on traditional student credit hours was 1,477.05. Other recent years include: 2016, 1,441.58; 2015, 1,472.54; and 2014, 1,536.49.  

“We’re pretty excited about that uptick in enrollment,” said Amber Luinenburg, Minnesota West Director of Marketing, Enrollment and Communication.

That calculation is just one method of tracking enrollment data. According to a recent report at a campus forum by Minnesota West President Terry Gaalswyk, a total of 7,386 credit and non-credit students were served in fiscal year 2018. Those students represented 39 states and 10 countries, and students of color represented 18.7 percent of the total credit student’s population.

“We’re not only diverse in Worthington, but campuswide,” Gaalswyk stressed.

Data also indicate that students are 55 percent female and an average age of 23 years old. More than one-half are classified as non-traditional students.

Enrollment on the college’s Worthington campus has remained nearly unchanged since last year. However, where the college is experiencing notable enrollment growth since last year is on its Jackson and Pipestone campuses.

At 254.1 traditional credit students, the Minnesota West Jackson campus has grown approximately 19 credit students over the last year and has its highest enrollment since 2014.

As for the Pipestone campus, enrollment was boosted by 16.07 traditional credit students since last year.

In fall 2017, Minnesota West’s Jackson and Pipestone campuses revived or improved some of its technical program offerings.

At the start of last school year, the college cut the blue ribbon on its new indoor powerline technology training facility on its Jackson campus, which received state bonding dollars to contribute toward the $2.55 million project. The Jackson campus also recently received major facility investments in its welding lab.  

To the northwest, the Pipestone campus reintroduced its carpentry program as a new collaboration between the college, Pipestone City Economic Development Authority and Pipestone Area Schools.

The college’s Luverne Center with allied health programs poses some concern, Gaalswyk reported.

Enrollment (per traditional credit students) had reached a recent high in 2016 with nearly 100 traditional credit students. Enrollment declined to 78.73 in 2017 and dipped further this year to 74.9 traditional credit students.

The college also tracks enrollment in programs it’s involved in for other learners, specifically in post-secondary enrollment options (PSEO) and REACH program offerings in local high schools.

According to data recently presented by Gaalswyk, the college partnered to educate more than 1,000 PSEO students from more than 50 high schools in 207 different class offerings during last school year. REACH — which includes additional program offerings for high school students to receive college credits — has also gained significant interest. Enrollment in fiscal year 2018 (969) had jumped since 2016’s enrollment of 546 students.

In spring 2018, the college and District 518 partnered to offer an introductory education course, with the idea of expanding it to an innovative teacher pipeline project that would also include Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall and the Southwest Initiative Foundation. Gaalswyk said the collaboration garnered the interest from the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. which has invited a Minnesota West representative to a retreat.  

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