By Kate Darnell, News writer
When Brian Whalen, 39, was laid off from work on Jan. 15, he returned to the classroom.
With the economy the way it is, people really dont have much of an option, Whalen said.
Back at Maysville Community and Technical College/Licking Valley Campus and working to earn his second degree, Whalen is hoping to enter the colleges nursing program in the spring.
Im like a returning customer, Whalen said, laughing.
Whalen is among the record-breaking 789 students currently enrolled at Maysville Community and Technical College/Licking Valley Campus.
While college office staff cannot call the number official until January, they are still excited. Last fall semester, MCTC/LVCs head count was 596 - 200 students less than a year later.
The state of the economy is driving much of the enrollment growth, said Sandy Power, MCTC/LVC student development specialist. There are so many people out of work who are finding they have a lot of time on their hands. School is a logical choice for them for a career transformation.
Whalen said he was in the process of working on a new career instead of looking for a new job.
While he earned an industrial maintenance degree from MCTC/LVC in 2004, he said he now is turning to a more reliable field - health care.
In education and medicine, theres an unending need, he said.
Whalens wife Lisa is also a student at MCTC/LVC. She is currently working on an education degree.
Power said along with MCTC/LVCs enrollment numbers, financial aid has also increased.
Nearly 90 percent of all our students receive some type of financial aid, she said.
With tuition costing $125 per credit hour, a student eligible for full aid may qualify for as much as $2,675 in a federal Pell Grant, Power said.
Lisa Harmon, 41, plans to finish her business degree in the spring of 2011.
I lost my job in the recession, she said. I did not know what I was going to do.
An office manager for 15 years, Harmon said as a young mother she never went to college.
They all were very proud of me, Harmon said about her two children.
When shes not taking classes, Harmon serves as the administrative assistant to the colleges continuing education coordinator - a position she received in July.
My experience here has been excellent, Harmon said.
Power said the college has expanded to ensure more individuals receive experiences like Harmon.
Additional adjunct instructors have been hired, schedules have been revamped (including the addition of nine new sections of reading, math and writing) and new Pharmacy Tech, EMT and Phlebotomy programs have begun.
The colleges Health Sciences Extension recently opened at Harrison Square and currently houses all of the campus allied health programs.
Campus Director Bruce Florence said the new allied health programs are also feeding the colleges growth.
We have made some definite progress and not all of it is the economy... Florence said. There are a lot of different factors feeding this growth.
Power said when the Licking Valley Campus first offered classes in 1988, 20 students were enrolled.
Bruce Florence started the college out of the trunk of her car, Power said.
The current campus across from the high school opened in 2002, with 383 students enrolled that fall.
As numbers come in for the spring semester, Florence said the campus is already expecting 533 students.
And that number usually doubles after Christmas, she said.
I never thought we would be flirting with 1,000... Florence said Tuesday. Im thrilled that were being able to serve that many students.