MGCCC ranked in Fastest Growing Community Colleges list

Community College Week has named Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College a Fastest Growing Community College.  MGCCC is ranked in the top 50 community colleges with enrollments of 10,000 or higher. The ranking is based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

While other community colleges in the state and nation have been experiencing considerable dips in enrollment, MGCCC has managed to buck the trend and maintain, even grow, enrollment.   Between fall 2011 and fall 2012, MGCCC enrollment increased by 1.3 percent, placing it at 36th in the top-50 list.

The list ranks MGCCC with the biggest community colleges in the nation, including colleges from large metropolitan areas in Florida, California, New York and Massachusetts. Other community colleges in Mississippi experienced enrollment growth, but none with more than 10,000 students.  In fact, MGCCC is the only college in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee or Arkansas to be included in the top-50 list of the largest community colleges in the nation.

MGCCC continues to be the first choice for many outstanding, high-achieving, traditional-age students in South Mississippi, a fact indicated by the college’s three consecutive Aspen recognitions as a top community college; a national ranking as a Top-100 Associate Degree Producer; and the presentation of the Halbrook Award in 2012 and 2013 for having the highest graduation rate among all of Mississippi’s community college athletic programs.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data shows that enrollment at two-year public colleges, which had been pumped up since 2007 by the effects of the Great Recession, is now declining.  To counter this, MGCCC president, Dr. Mary S. Graham, said the college is focusing on recruiting non-traditional students, helping mid-career workers retool their skills, and expanding access to minority and first-generation college students.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Hospitality and Resort Management Center in Biloxi is a working convention and conference center and an education facility that offers students the opportunity to learn in a real-world atmosphere.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Hospitality and Resort Management Center in Biloxi is a working convention and conference center and an education facility that offers students the opportunity to learn in a real-world atmosphere.

“For community colleges to continue to be successful, we have to provide educational and training opportunities for students in a way that is appealing and convenient to them,” she said. “ For instance, we are using innovative ways of approaching our education offerings at MGCCC – innovations like our Hospitality and Resort Management Center that functions as a working convention and conference center and as an educational facility, or our planned Nursing and Simulation Complex that will double our nursing graduates, and the Maritime Training Academy in Pascagoula that allows students to complete the Ingalls Shipbuilding Apprenticeship Program while receiving an associate degree in Maritime Technology.  Additionally, we are expanding areas that have already proven successful for us, like online learning and workforce training.”

The ranking for the Fastest Growing Community Colleges, along with research data collected for the ranking, are listed in the Feb. 17 edition of Community College Week in the analysis, “A Downward Trend: As the Economy Improves and GDP Grows, Enrollment Heads in Opposite Direction.”  More information on the research used is available at www.ccweek.com.

Kathy McAdams is an award-winning journalist who has worked at weekly newspapers in Mississippi and the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala. A native of Gulfport, McAdams attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, William Carey University, the University of South Alabama and The University of Southern Mississippi. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and journalism and a master's degree in education and English. She has worked at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2005.