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College Age Demographic Continues To Shift

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Over the past ten years, the age demographic of the college has shifted. Currently the typical college student age of 18-23 accounts for only one-third of the overall student population, according to the 2013-14 Central Oregon Community College Annual Enrollment Report.

This diversity in ages at COCC creates a unique environment with different needs than a typical university, according to Karen Roth, director of Multicultural Activities.

COCC has tried to “break the classic stereo-type” of a disconnected community college by integrating on campus clubs and extracurricular programs, according to Roth.
“The challenge for the campus is to ensure that we work to address the varying needs and interests of students of different ages,” Roth said.
By addressing the needs of a diverse student group, COCC is setting themselves apart from other community colleges, according to Drew Jones, director of Admissions and Records at COCC.
“This isn’t the traditional community college experience where you show up, put your earphones on, and just go to class. It’s part of what makes us unique,” Jones said.
The age diversity can be attributed in part to the recruiting brackets COCC focuses on. The college currently draws much of their population from local high schools as well as individuals seeking a career change, according to Ron Paradis, director of College Relations.
In addition to affecting campus logistics, such as recruiting efforts, the age diversity affects campus culture as well, Paradis explained.
“There are some students who have so many outside commitments related to jobs and families that it is a struggle just to make it to class,” Paradis said. “However, we provided multiple ways for students to get together…these provide students with community at COCC.”
The student population age shift supports COCC’s overall mission to “serve the community no matter what age,” according to Jones.
“I don’t see us ever changing that philosophy–we’re open to the community no matter what age or background you’re coming from…we will always be mixed,” Jones said.

Abigail Stevens | The Broadside
(contact: astevens2@cocc.edu)

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