COC is about to experience one of the largest spikes in enrollment in the school’s history.
According to the Community College Chancellor’s Office, enrollment is expected to increase by around 4000 students over the next two years. Is the school prepared for this? Are these numbers even accurate? Since these projections do not take into account the Newhall Ranch development project, which has been called one of the most ambitious city planning projects in the world today, it’s safe to assume these predictions could be very much understated.
The school has predicted spikes like this before in 2012 and 2014, but they were due mostly to the school receiving extra funding from the state when the economy began to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, and COC’s enrollment was significantly lowered.
However, this spike does not come after a sudden in dip enrollment, but after six years of steady growth. According to COC’s fact book for 2017-2018, the school is expected to have over 25,000 students enrolled by 2020. The fact book goes on to say that “this enrollment demand will place a tremendous demand on delivering educational programs and support services.” And these numbers do not even take into account that Santa Clarita has recently broken ground on a mammoth residential development project.
According to COC spokesperson Eric Harnish, these numbers will have to be “revisited” based on the recent developments in the advancement of the project.
The college is taking many steps to try and alleviate the demands created by overcrowding. The expansion of the Canyon Country campus, the parking structure at the Valencia campus, and accelerated classes that allow students to graduate faster than before, to name a few.
But while all of this is happening, the city of Santa Clarita continues it’s relentless plans for rapid growth. The first 5,500 homes included in the project have already begun construction off the 126 freeway near Magic Mountain. This is only the beginning of an extremely ambitious $14 billion city planning project that has been called one of “the billion dollar mega projects that will change the face of the world’s greatest cities” by Business Insider. The publication says the project will bring thousands of commercial buildings and tens of thousands of more people and homes into the area.
According to Harnish, “the state’s projections do not include the local developments” that are under construction right now. Any projections found in the fact book also do not include the other 16,000 homes that are still awaiting final approval before construction can begin.
Harnish also mentioned that there weren’t any plans to build another Canyon Country style campus as a part of the massive city planning project. He stated that since the development project isn’t slated to be completed by 2035, any plans to build another campus in the area would be “premature”.
Harnish qualified this by saying that even though the state’s projections do not take into account the newest city planning projects that COC needs to keep a close eye on new residential and commercial developments internally and uses that information to create future plans for the school.