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Continuing ed keeps growing at HCC

May 22, 2000|By TARA REILLY

Keeping up with the national trend, the Center for Continuing Education at Hagerstown Community College has grown by 52 percent over the last nine years.

A recent article in Forbes magazine reported that continuing education across the country makes up 6 percent of the gross national product.

The program offers people of all ages a range of lifelong learning opportunities, including skills training, work force development and personal enrichment courses.

Ann Shipway of HCC said the college's program is becoming popular because the classes focus on a specific topic and allow men, women and children to keep up with the changes in the economy and society.

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For example, HCC's program offers classes on anything from how to use the Internet, improve personal finance methods or become a truck driver to how to dance, cook or do T'ai Chi. Approximately 1,500 continuing education classes are offered a year, with new classes offered every quarter.

Those interested would register for a course and pay tuition, usually costing between $15 and $300.

The program began when HCC opened in 1946. Over the last nine years, it has grown by 6,268 students.

Total enrollment for fiscal year 1992 was 5,796; 1993 was 6,104; 1994 was 6,144; 1995 was 7,640; 1996 was 7,009; 1997 was 8,689; 1998 was 10,869; 1999 was 12,804; and 2000 is 12,064.

This year's enrollment figure is expected to increase by 2,000 students by the end of the fiscal year June 30.

"We're just on fire with it," Shipway said. "People have come here and learned how to paint. They've learned how to play the clarinet, and they could never play an instrument before. That's where the excitement is in continuing education."

While Shipway said the average age of a continuing education student is 45, many children and seniors also enroll in courses.

The college expects about 400 children to sign up for summer courses this year. Seniors are also offered a variety of classes, including fitness and music courses. Many of the middle-aged students enroll in computer and Internet classes.

"Continuing education is for everybody," Shipway said. "If you just have your first birthday, there's something for you."

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