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44 prospective students appear at Cape college center's first open house
When the doors opened for the Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education's first open house, students and their families were waiting to enroll.
While a study outlined the demand for community college services in Cape Girardeau County, school officials have said they will not know exactly how much demand is there until they see the enrollment numbers. Thursday, they got a preview during the first of two open house events to enroll students and get them acquainted with the community college center.
"Nobody involved in this really knows," said Rich Payne, director of the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center.
Staff from Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers Community College likewise did not know what to expect for the session. They have been working together for about nine months to prepare for students planning to attend Cape Girardeau's first community college center.
"We were prepared to serve as many as came in," said Dr. Debbie Below, assistant vice president of enrollment management and director of admissions at Southeast.
Five families showed up 15 minutes before the 1 p.m. event started, Below said. By the end of the first hour, about 20 prospective students signed in, but the crowd appeared to wane by midafternoon. During the seven-hour session, 44 prospective students attended, 34 completed applications and 28 enrolled in courses, Below said.
About 20 staff from Southeast and Three Rivers assisted students who went from table to table enrolling, meeting with advisers, taking placement exams and choosing classes.
Four classrooms and an office at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center will be home to the Partnership, which is staffed by an academic adviser. Partnership officials have said the facilities and staffing could expand based on enrollments.
Katie Scowden, 18, decided to continue her studies at the Partnership after graduating from Central High School in May and completing the culinary arts program at the Career and Technology Center.
The first person in her family to attend college, Scowden said the small community college classes would be a smoother transition for her. She said she was nervous to enroll but comforted by the familiar surroundings.
"I seemed more calm with just knowing where to go," Scowden said.
A study funded by a coalition of business and education leaders provided the basis for the Partnership, which gained a approval from the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in December. The study outlined groups of students who would benefit from a community college, including nontraditional students, who could be overwhelmed by the campus of a four-year institution.
Kimberly Dunning, 29, said she is nervous and excited to return to school to study criminal justice.
"I was really happy that Cape got a community college," she said. "That's just a good steppingstone."
The Partnership's service region matches that of the Career and Technology Center. It will cover the residents of 11 school districts in Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Scott and Stoddard counties. Incidental fees for students within the service region will be $124 per credit hour. Fees for students outside the service region will be $151 per credit hour.
Jim Baylor, a parent, said the cost was a more attractive option for his son's first two years of college. Because the Partnership is a collaboration between Three Rivers, Southeast and Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Mo., he said he is reassured that the credits will transfer.
"That's a big thing," he said. Baylor said his son, a recent graduate of Jackson High School, will also use A+ funding, a state program that pays two years of community college for qualifying students.
A 16-member advisory committee will pick up where the coalition left off, said Payne, also a member of the committee. The group will have its first meeting Tuesday. Another open house will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. July 12 at the Career and Technology Center.
1080 S. Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO