HBC caters to variety of prospective students

May 17, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD


Public and private community colleges statewide recently have been posturing themselves as cost-effective alternatives to starting at four-year schools.

"That's not a part of the way we market ourselves," Hagerstown Business College President Chris Motz said. "We market ourselves as a career college."

This time of year, high school students are putting the final touches on their college plans. On Tuesday, Hagerstown Business College honored its decade-long tradition of kicking off the first day of fall class sign-ups with a Texas-style barbecue in the campus courtyard.

But the vast majority of students to partake in the festivities were well beyond their high school years. Many of them were mothers with teenage children, grandmothers and 40-somethings.


Of the 771 students attending Hagerstown Business College, a little more than 70 percent were older than 25, recruiter Linda Gilbert said.

Gilbert said the school expects around 225 incoming freshman this fall.

Cathi Wulzer, a single mother from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said she enrolled at Hagerstown Business College two years ago because she was tired of working fast-food jobs.

"So my kids would have a chance," said Wulzer, 37, who majors in health information technology.

Billie-Joe Trumpower, 50, of Hagerstown, said she was a grandmother.

"It was time to get back in the work force," said Trumpower, who also majors in health information technology. "I'll be in the paperwork part of the medical field. I don't do blood."

Community colleges traditionally have served working adults and younger students who felt they weren't ready for four-year schools, state and local higher education officials have said.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission reported in fall 2005 that enrollments at community colleges were growing at a faster rate than enrollments at four-year schools. The reason for the rapid growth was because of high school students attracted to the low costs of attending a two-year community college, state researchers said.

Motz said the college has programs enabling high school students to take courses for college credit, and has a formal matriculation agreement with Kaplan University, a Web-based four-year school.

Still, Motz said, career-based training is the school's primary focus.

"It's meant to lead to a career," Motz said.

The Herald-Mail Articles