Kevin Horan, executive dean of the San Ramon Campus of DVC, said that the rate of enrollment has taken them all by surprise.
"This is enrollment demand like we have not seen before," Horan stated. "In the summer we saw tremendous growth as well. At one point this summer we had a 101 percent fill rate."
Horan said that as of last week, current enrollment was already up to 98 percent. The San Ramon campus has the capacity to seat 7,037 students in its classes. Latest figures show that 6,897 of those seats have been taken.
The big question is why are smaller schools and community colleges on the upswing?
"I think it's a combination of things," said Horan. "The state of the economy is one. There are many people who aren't working now and are seeking job retraining or changing careers."
"Another factor is that the CSU and UC systems have both increased their fees tremendously and stopped new enrollment," he added. "So kids who would have gone to a four-year school right out of high school are instead coming to the community college."
Diablo Valley College offers a wide array of courses. Students are able to achieve their associate degree or certificates of completion. These help fulfill requirements to transfer to a four-year institution.
While all of the classes are filling up, Horan said that there is a particular demand for science and general education courses. DVC's Green Sciences and electronics programs in particular are popular.
The state's economic situation is affecting education across the board and DVC is no exception. Horan said they are expecting to see cuts coming during the course of the upcoming year.
"DVC is part of the Contra Costa Community College District. As a district, the latest number is that we're going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million to $8 million in general funding cut, and our categorical programs may see cuts of upwards of 60 percent."
Horan said the cuts will devastate the programs and could result in some cutbacks among programs and faculty.
"We haven't had to reduce our academic schedule yet, but those discussions are taking place," he explained. "There's talk of mid-year cuts coming down but nothing definitive has been put out yet."