July 16, 2012
Story by Brandon Steinert
Barton Community College has seen steady growth in the last five years. The institution as a whole has attracted participation from about 3,000 more students in 2011-12 compared to five years ago, according to the unduplicated headcount data gathered at the close of the spring semester.
That translates to almost 30,000 more credit hours served in the last year compared with the same time period half a decade ago. The increase in credit hours is a 25-percent increase in five years, while the unduplicated headcount reveals an increase of about 20 percent in total students served.
Almost 10,000 of those additional credit hours were accumulated in the most recent academic year – a 9-percent increase from 2010-11. BARTonline, Barton’s online learning component, was responsible for more than 6,500 of the additional credit-hours obtained beyond last year’s numbers. BARTonline has grown by leaps and bounds each year with an impressive 137.7-percent increase over its credit-hour total of 16,000 from five years ago.
Dean of Distance Learning Ange Sullivan said the reason for the consistent leaps in enrollment increases points to the fundamental elements of the entity’s mission statement – convenience, quality and affordability.
“Our enrollment processes are streamlined and can be done completely online which opens the doors to military, non-traditional students, and a diverse population,” she said. “BARTonline courses are extremely economical and transfer to most colleges.”
Barton’s Vice President Dr. Penny Quinn agreed.
“Students known as the Internet Generation or Generation Always On are looking for ease of enrollment, convenience and low-cost, quality education. Old fashioned book learning is being replaced with learning on-demand,” she explained. “BARTonline embodies these characteristics. We offer a variety of degree programs and certificates that can be completed entirely online.”
Quinn and Sullivan both cited increased marketing efforts across the state and expanded offerings as means for the college to continue to grow the online experience.
The main campus showed a slight decrease in headcount of about 3 percent compared to the previous year, and 4.7 percent compared to five years ago.
The drop in students physically attending classes on campus is owed to the draw of taking online classes, which can be taken any time and thus fit students’ schedules.
Those numbers are not indicative of the activity on campus. More students are taking advantage of the many career and technical programs offered at Barton each year. The college currently offers 26 career programs, among the most well-recognized are Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Medical Assistant and Business Administrative Technology.
Dean of Workforce Training and Community Education Elaine Simmons said the college has been very responsive.
“I think we are paying closer attention to the economic workforce needs of the state and industry, and we are working hard to match up training and programs with students and the workforce,” she said. “We are also constantly working to create awareness of the programs and career training opportunities. We have put way more focus on that in the last five years than we have before and, obviously, we’re putting many of our career programs online, which was not happening five years ago.”
Simmons said several programs have been recently added, like the new gas measurement certificate and the pharmacy technician certificate. She said more will continually be added as the needs of the workforce change.
Barton has offered classes to service men and women and their families through its Fort Riley campus for about 20 years and is more prominent than any other school’s satellite campus on post.
The Fort Riley campus has been one of Barton’s fastest-growing entities, showing a 25-percent increase in credit-hour production compared to five years ago, and a 10-percent increase from last year.
That trend should see an additional spike in next year’s numbers as more programs and courses are added.
Dean of Fort Riley Learning Services Gene Kingslien said he is proud of the extensive education options offered to Fort Riley soldiers, and looks forward to continually expanding those offerings.
OSHA Training, Hazardous Materials & Emergency Services Training Institute
Barton’s Grandview Plaza campus, located near Junction City, Kan., also showed an uptick in participation with a 42-percent rate of growth in credit hours. The rate slowed to a 3.5-percent increase from last year, but it should be on the rise once more, as the site looks to expand its Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) training options.
The campus is currently only considered an OSHA Outreach Training Site, which limits the OSHA courses that can be made available. Dean of Technical Education Bill Nash said a plan is in the works to become an authorized OSHA Training Institute, which would give Barton the freedom to offer any courses deemed necessary by OSHA throughout the state and beyond.
The Hazardous Materials and Emergency Services training options are made available across the state and are utilized by dozens of municipalities and state government organizations for training employees on emergency management and handling waste safely.
These services are also offered to the military at almost a dozen forts across the country, from Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley here in Kansas to Fort Knox, Ky. and other major military installations.