Public Education Trends In Colorado

    With diversity at Colorado colleges lacking, the Denver Post reports on the up-and-down enrollment rates at campuses throughout the state.

    The article also finds that enrollment at universities is moving to the urban spectrum, while community colleges and rural schools are seeing less students.From the Post:

    The state’s 13 two-year community colleges have a total of 17,962 students this fall, down from 19,480 in 2003.

    “We live and die by our enrollment,” system president Nancy McCallin said.

    Every in-state student is worth $2,580 in state money this year, and 85 percent of the community college state allocation comes in the form of Colorado’s per-student stipend.

    The state’s research universities, for the most part, have had significant gains in enrollment over the past four years. The student population at the Colorado School of Mines, for example, jumped from 1,198 in fall 2003 to 1,471 this fall – a 23 percent increase.

    While there could by many reasons for the changes, including a supposedly more lucrative job market, population on the Front Range could be playing a role.

    Colorado is on track with a national pattern showing enrollment increasing at universities at more than double the rate of community colleges.

    Higher education experts also are noticing that urban colleges are gaining students, while rural schools are losing them….

    An exception is Mesa State College in Grand Junction, where enrollment has crept up the last few years. President Tim Foster said the school is reaching out to students through online and night courses, plus a special January term.

    Some of the decline in enrollment at rural schools is due in part to Colorado’s expanding population along the Front Range and in resort areas, said Bill Young, director of enrollment management at Mines.

    Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at