GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Classes started at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Friday and many classes were full.
"I'm so excited about it. I'm not sure if I'm surprised at this point in time. It is a great thing to be going on," said Dr. Jason Pugh, Vice President of the Jackson County campus in Gautier.
College officials point to two main reasons for the rise in enrollment. One is the crippling economy.
"In community colleges, as the economy goes down, the enrollment goes up as people seek re-training and skills that they need for new or different jobs," said Pugh.
The college also launched an ambitious campaign called "10,000 Strong." The goal was to recruit 10,000 students college-wide to bring the enrollment back-up to pre-Katrina levels.
"We used students, we used faculty, we used staff," said Pugh. "Businesses all across the county and civic clubs helped us recruit and get the word out to our students."
The campaign paid off. The enrollment reached 10,300 students.
The Jackson County campus gained about 400 students, which is an 11 percent increase from last fall. The population stands at 4,071 students Friday afternoon.
The Perkinston campus saw the biggest enrollment spike. There are 12 percent more students now compared to last year, with 1,599 students. In fact, more than 100 students are on the waiting list for dorms.
While the J.C. and Perk campuses saw record-enrollment, the Jeff Davis campus has also grown, but at a slower pace. About 3,900 students are enrolled at the Gulfport site. That is up 6.5 percent.
College leaders are optimistic the numbers will continue to climb.
"It's an attractive place, an exciting place, with talented folks, and that just brings people to us and so we expect this trend to continue," said Pugh.
The college has added programs, hired more faculty members, and rescheduled some classes to accommodate the additional students. Late registration ends August 27.