This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

After years of growth, Kenai Peninsula College is seeing a decline in student enrollment.

Enrollment decreased 4 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to an update given by Suzie Kendrick, KPC advancement programs manager, at Wednesday’s Soldotna Chamber Luncheon.

“It was years before we saw red numbers like this,” Kendrick, has worked at the college for more than 17 years, said. We grew, and we grew and we grew. Then the economy flattened out. I don’t think I need to explain to you how things are a little bit different than they were five or more years ago.”

Kendrick said the 92-bed capacity resident halls are also just over half full. Summer enrollment was also down by 1 percent.

Last academic year, the college-graduated students enrolled in 121 associates degrees, 16 one-year certificates, 33 welding certificates, and 35 general education development programs. The most popular degree was the associates’ degree in process technology, which had 56 graduates.

Kendrick said the college offers something for everyone. She said the college offers many opportunities for residents interested in a career change, high school juniors and seniors and people across the state who are interested in attending a small community campus.

“You can get started on any four-year degree, and you can even get four degrees right here at Kenai Peninsula College, and a lot of people don’t know that,” Kendrick said in her presentation.

She specifically pushed the school’s certified nursing aide class, which is a one semester, six-credit course.

“You successfully complete that program, take the state exam and boom, you’re a certified nurses aide,” Kendrick said. “They are in high, high demand on the Kenai Peninsula and all over the United States.”

Kendrick said many local high school students could take advantage of the campus’ Jumpstart program, which gives Kenai Peninsula Borough high school students significantly reduced tuition.

“You need to get started on college,” Kendrick said. “We’ve had quite a few borough students who have graduated with their associate’s degree in tandem with their high school diploma. You can do it, and you can do it at a much lower rate than you’re going to have to pay when you come as a non-high school student.”

Spring semester begins Jan. 14.

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