PUHI — Kaua‘i Community College surpassed the 1,500-student mark Monday, said Cammie Matsumoto, director of community relations and special projects.
With late registration completed Friday, KCC’s enrollment on Monday morning sat at 1,512 students registered and attending classes.
Among the University of Hawai‘i’s seven community colleges spread across the state, KCC holds the highest percentage of enrollment increase at 5.4 percent from the 2011 fall semester. Adding to the increase, KCC also showed the highest percentage of increase in student semester hours at 4 percent compared with the fall 2011 semester.
Comparatively, Leeward Community College and Windward Community College showed gains of 1.2 and 1.5 percent, respectively. All other community colleges had decreased enrollment from the 2011 fall semester.
Overall, the community college system showed a 240-student decrease, or .7 percent from the 2011 fall semester and a decrease of 943 student semester hours, or a .3 percent decrease.
The increase was shown last week when the college opened its doors for the fall semester, but because of the late registration period, officials said the first-week figures were unofficial to allow for the adjustments during late registration.
“This is the third time in 20 years since Hurricane ‘Iniki hit in 1992 where KCC has had more than 1,500 students,” said Earl Nishiguchi, the vice chancellor for student affairs. “In the fall semester of 1992, we were at the highest student enrollment at 1,563 students. In the fall semester of 1994, student enrollment surpassed the 1,500-student mark at 1,514 for the second time, and this week, we are at 1,512 students.”
Activity bristled around campus to accommodate the high enrollment, one security officer commenting on how busy the parking area is, and Matsumoto noting the library, tutoring and study areas were expanded to facilitate student learning.
“I’m delighted with the returning students as well as all the new students coming to KCC,” said Chancellor Helen Cox. “This is absolutely wonderful; not only for KCC, but for the island of Kaua‘i as well because it creates a foundation of educated citizens.”
Nishiguchi said the increase is due to a lot of factors, but leading the way is the economy and the rising cost of education.
“The cost of college is going up, and we’re seeing a lot more students spending the first two years at home before moving on to a different college,” Nishiguchi said.
While the campus burgeons with an increased student population, the KCC bookstore has also made adjustments.
Noel Mock, the KCC bookstore manager, said the goal is to try and save money for the students. “This semester, we have rental books, which is an extension from a third-party vendor who offered online rentals,” Mock said.
“If a student compares pricing on textbooks, and even with the buy back program, a rental saves them money up front, leaving them more money to spend on other items.”
Crystall Genegabuas Tabura, the primary student helper, was busy stocking shelves in the cold drink area, noting the special for this week was Cup Noodles.
The savings reflected for the students, however, are also shared with the shopping public, looking for unique items such as the University of Hawai‘i logo wear, books (there is no Border’s, anymore) among other items.
“If you broke your slippah, you can come over here,” Genegabuas Tabura said, noting the stores has rubber slippers in either “smooth” or “rough” styles with “University of Hawai‘i” emblazoned on the straps. Other items include a “bargain book” section featuring a variety of titles and an infant section.
“It’s called ‘bargain’ because it’s better than going to Borders,” Genegabuas Tabura said, pointing out a popular Chuck Norris trilogy series, which sells new for less than at a branded bookstore. “We have a lot of books, biographies, how-to, do-it-yourself and even a Hawaiiana section with books written in the Hawaiian language with great artwork.”
Topping the offerings, honey from the KCC Apiary program is available along with Kulanui Products, a papaya-based line of seasonings, dressings and even cleansers, made on the Big Island. “We’re more than a bookstore,” Tabura said.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.