LINN — Fall semester classes at State Technical College of Missouri began Tuesday with the largest number of students in the college’s history.
A total of 2,037 students were welcomed to campus this fall, marking the first time State Tech has enrolled 2,000 students.
Brandon McElwain, State Tech’s director of marketing, said the first day went just as planned.
“It’s actually been extremely smooth sailing,” McElwain said.
The fall 2021 semester marks the fourth consecutive year an overall enrollment record was set and fifth year enrolling a record number of first-year students.
State Tech’s enrollment has grown more than 60 percent in the last five years, jumping 5 percent from last year’s enrollment.
“How are we able to keep this growth up year after year? It is really about value proposition,” State Tech President Shawn Strong said in a news release. “Our mission is to prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning. Every employee at State Tech knows this and lives the mission. Our amazing employees make it possible. When it comes to outstanding technical education, no one does it better than State Tech.”
McElwain said seeing students arrive on campus is like a breath of fresh air.
“It brings the campus to life when we have all these excited students,” McElwain said. “The first-year students are all excited and walking around making sure they know where all their classes are, and you’re pointing them in the right direction. It’s kind of neat to see the second-year students who kind of know their way around, and they’re willing to kind of jump in and help as well.”
The increase in enrollment comes after a non-traditional recruiting season in which fewer bus tours visited campus and on-site access to high schools were limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To keep students entertained while not in class, McElwain said a paintball war was scheduled for Tuesday evening and events have been planned throughout the week.
The rapid increase in enrollment presents a different issue, however, as finding housing for students in Linn has been a concern.
Even though it came down to the last minute, McElwain said everyone who needed a place to stay for the fall semester has found one, as far as the college is aware.
“We assume that we’re going to continue this growth trajectory, and we’re going to be struggling for housing next year,” McElwain said. “So I know we’re going to start working with some local business owners to see if we can up the beds in this town because I do believe we’ve kinda hit capacity.”