Barton Community College growth continues into the new year; among fastest growing mid-sized community colleges in nation

January 10, 2013
Story by Brandon Steinert

Barton Community College served 8,394 students in the fall semester of 2013, which is an increase of 272 students from the previous fall semester.

The most widely accepted metric to measure enrollment is Full Time Equivalency (FTE). This is calculated by taking the total credit hours provided and dividing by 15 credit hours per semester, which is the average course load for a full time student. This standard allows Barton to see how it’s doing relative to other colleges and past semesters.

Barton saw an increase of about 4.2 percent in FTE from fall 2012 to fall 2013.

For the first half of the reporting year, July 1 through December 31, 2013, Barton’s numbers were up 6.5 percent over the same time period in 2012.

Increasing enrollment has been one of the primary objectives of the current Barton Board of Trustees and administration, and so far things are looking up. It appears 2013-14 will be its sixth consecutive year of attracting new students.

“Growth in enrollment is a sign that our faculty and staff are dedicated to the mission and vision of the institution,” Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said at a campuswide meeting Wednesday morning. “We are in the minority of community colleges showing growth. The majority of community colleges nationwide are experiencing enrollment declines.”

Two-year public institutions collectively saw a drop in enrollment of 3.1 percent nationally, according to NCSResearchCenter.org.

infographic about enrollment

Not only was Barton one of the few to show growth, it was ranked sixth in the nation for fastest-growing mid-sized community colleges from fall 2011 to fall 2012, according to Community College Week and data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Source of growth

BARTonline.org, Barton’s online learning component, has proven to be a powerful asset to the college. Its growth percentages have consistently been in the double-digits the last few years.

An increase of 8.86 percent in students taking courses through BARTonline in fall 2013 versus fall 2012 means the growth trend is still going strong. Early spring semester numbers show that enrollment continues to trend upward into 2014.

Another factor contributing to Barton’s growth is the recently opened Fort Leavenworth campus and service area, which has grown rapidly and steadily since it opened in 2012. It served 304 students in the fall, which is an increase of 158 from the previous fall semester.

A third source of growth is attributed to Kansas SB155 legislation.  High school students are provided state-sponsored scholarship support for dual enrollment in college technical programs. 
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