In the next few years, City College at Montana State University Billings won’t see the phenomenal growth that it had over the past decade.
But it will grow slowly as it prepares students for good jobs, increases the number of students wanting to later transfer to four-year campuses and reaches out more to the community, Marsha Riley, the college dean, said Tuesday.
During a visit to The Billings Gazette editorial board, Riley said the college, which has 1,336 students this fall, could grow to about 1,500 students in the future.
A good economy that detoured some potential students into jobs was one reason enrollment dropped 4 percent this year from last.
Even with that slight drop, the school grew 115 percent between 2002 and 2012.
To keep the college growing, Riley hopes to attract people, including older students and those who may have never thought about going to college, with general-education evening classes that City College began this fall.
College recruiters also focus on graduates of local high schools.
For those wanting a four-year degree, students can go to City College for two years, taking general-education courses that transfer to public universities in the state at a lower cost.
The college continues to offer several programs that have waiting lists, including practical nursing, two-year registered nursing, paramedic and radiologic technology.
Welding is so popular that an evening program was added in addition to day classes.
There still is room in diesel technology, some business programs, networking technology and drafting and design.
Riley wants to increase the number of noncredit classes, such as safety training, as well as adding credit courses that would lead to jobs in the Bakken oil fields.
She also is working on a project with local high schools that will help students come to college better prepared to enter college-level math and writing classes.
About one-fifth of students coming to City College have to take developmental courses before they can take a college math class, she said.
Riley is involved in another program that will show middle school students what classes they need to take in high school and college to get specific jobs when they graduate.
In late November, City College will host the first gathering of members of all boards that advise the college on the 30 programs it offers. Council members work in professions, industries and businesses that match City College programs.
Riley hopes to offer speaker series that brings community members to campus.