by Connor Donnellon

Enrollment is declining in higher education, but two year college programs are on the rise. This year, two year college programs, or associate’s degrees, are seeing an increase in interest, which also correlates with recent federal legislation regarding loans and repayment plans.

          This semester, Niagara County Community College enrolled 3,394 students, including 386 high school students taking College Acceleration Program classes. That doesn’t seem like much compared to larger, four year schools in the area. Take the University at Buffalo, UB, for an example. This semester, the institution enrolled 20,761 undergraduate students alone, which being known as “New York’s Public Powerhouse”, shows that they can have a steady stream of interest. Numbers from the previous semester show that UB hit a plateau when it came to enrollment this year, only gaining about two percent from incoming freshman.

          There are multiple reasons why someone could chose which college they want to attend. One of the most common things are the programs that it offers. No two programs are the same, and they can have the exact same program. The course material that you need to take is the same, but could be taught in multiple different ways. Something else that incoming freshman need to consider, is all of the financials that they are about to take on. To make it fair, let’s say you are a commuting student in an undergraduate program, who is a full time student. Niagara County Communty College will average about $3,300 per semester, while UB will charge you about $5,700 per semester. A two year program better allows you to transfer into a four year program, if that’s if the place you are transferring to, and usually accepts all of the classes that you took already.

          Another consideration, what these institutions have to offer outside of the classroom. After all, if you are going to pay this much money, you might want to know what it is going to. While UB offers 16 division 1 teams, most of them won’t see the spotlight outside of the local level. Some teams aren’t covered at the school level either. NCCC has 11 division 3 teams, which also lack media exposure outside of being in championship contention. UB offers multiple recreational opportunities at both its north and south campuses, but they are rarely attended by students. NCCC offers a handful of opportunities for each month, which some events are more attended than others, but they are much better at getting the word out about what is going on around the school.

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