Colleges predict record enrollment

Colleges predict record enrollment

July 19th, 2010 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

Chattanooga State Enrollment

Fall 2009: 9,431

Fall 2004: 8,121

Fall 1999: 8,162

Source: Chattanooga State

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga enrollment

Fall 2009: 10,526

Fall 2004: 8,689

Fall 1999: 8,604

Source: UTC

Chattanooga State and UTC are gearing up for another year of record-breaking fall enrollment, but officials say a swarm of freshmen could exacerbate overcrowding that already exists, especially on UTC's campus.

Officials are predicting parking problems, housing shortages and bottlenecking in high-demand courses.

"Right now, there is going to be some pressure on those freshman classes," said University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor Roger Brown. "As the summer goes on, it will be harder and harder for students to get their first choices of classes."

Enrollment numbers at both schools are still shifting as campus recruiting and orientations continue through the summer until classes start at the end of August.

Chattanooga State Community College officials would not release their enrollment figures, but said they are currently up more than 10 percent from last year at this time.

"Numbers are up because the economy is still down," said Jeff Olingy, a spokesman for Chattanooga State. "People are looking for opportunities to reinvent themselves."

UTC's enrollment could reach 10,800 this fall, said Dr. Brown, a 3 percent increase over last fall.

However, officials with both schools said they don't think new legislation intended to make it easier for students to transfer from two-year to four-year schools has had much, if any, effect on enrollment. The legislation was passed in a special session earlier this year.

The number of transfer students at UTC is flat from last year, records show.

At UTC, enrollment is booming among recent high school graduates looking for a traditional college experience, and demand for on-campus housing is greater than ever.

Like last year, more than 150 UTC student who signed up to live in dorms will be forced to begin their school year in downtown hotels, Dr. Brown said.

The squeeze has become so serious - and expensive - for the college, officials are talking about paying a company to seek out private apartments for rent in the downtown area and placing students in those apartments instead of hotels. But that can't be arranged until next year, Dr. Brown said.

The security of knowing they will get a steady stream of tenants could convince local landlords into lowering rents for UTC students, he said.

"This has been done at many other campuses," said Dr. Brown. "A little farther down the road we are going to have to begin building more apartments on campus."