SUGAR GROVE – Waubonsee Community College continues to be a popular destination for many recent high school graduates, as well as the older population, with nearly 15,000 for-credit students enrolled this fall, including 26 percent who are taking classes full time. By this time next year, more than 35,000 people will have graduated from the school during its 50 years.
“We are on target for enrollment numbers,” said Steven Miller, communications manager for Waubonsee Community College. “I don’t have the latest numbers, but it’s true that numbers are down across all colleges.”
The decline is a reflection of the economy and unemployment.
“With the economy generally doing better and more people working now than in past years, there’s less unemployment,” Miller said. “That’s a good thing, but although [Waubonsee Community College is] affordable, it takes time.”
As students have returned to Waubonsee Community College this fall, and others are now first stepping onto the campus after graduating in the spring from high school, the college is quite active. Although nothing much has changed regarding curriculum, there are additional offerings in accelerated classes.
One unique offering at Waubonsee Community College is the Dunham Fund Quick Path Degree Program, in which a student is afforded the opportunity of earning an associate degree in a single year without having to pay any tuition.
While the program application process is closed for the 2017-18 school year, it’s something students might be interested in pursuing for 2018-19 as courses are taken in a cohort and run in eight-week blocks. Requirements include demonstrating a financial need for the free tuition, as well as a 3.0 high school GPA and residency requirements.
“The Dunham is a newer program and a great opportunity for those that can do it,” Miller said. “It’s a business-focused program, and there’s great mentorship involved, so it’s a good program overall.”
Waubonsee Community College now moves on to its next 50 years after celebrating its 50-year anniversary last school year.
“We’re looking ahead at the next 50 years,” Miller said. “We have a proud past and are excited for the future.”
What began as a school consisting of 1,603 students has grown to 14,861. There are now more noncredit students, 2,583, than there were students overall in 1966. And what started in Sugar Grove has expanded elsewhere with campuses in Plano, downtown Aurora, and the Aurora Fox Valley, as well as an online class presence, something no one could have even imagined possible when laptops, cellphones, tablets and other technology didn’t exist.