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By Marian A. Maraya Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (August 28, 2001 – Saipan Tribune)---Massive marketing efforts by the Northern Marianas College has paid off as the institution recorded a hefty 21 percent increase in enrollment figures for the Fall 2001 semester.

The college's full-time equivalency reached 960 for the current term as opposed to the 796 FTEs during the fall of last year, according to enrollment records compiled as of August 20, 2001.

"I think parents also recognize the poor economic conditions and have opted to send their children to CNMI's lone college instead of making them attend off-island colleges or universities," said NMC Institutional Development Director Tony Deleon Guerrero.

Deleon Guerrero also attributed the rise in enrollment to the expanded information dissemination projects employed by the college.

To ensure that all sectors of the community are well informed about its programs, services and registration dates, NMC tapped radio, television and print publications to carry important announcements.

Prior to this semester's enlistment period, NMC also introduced its first comprehensive registration booklet, which was handed out to prospective students for free.

Deleon Guerrero added that the community has also started having faith in NMC's credibility, based on the maximum accreditation merits granted by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

This, along with the recent WASC seal of approval allowing NMC's School of Education to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees in elementary education, helped in uplifting the college's credibility.

Unofficial registration figures also point to a significant increase in the part-time versus the full-time student ratio.

This semester's figures toppled what was normally a 50-50 part-time and full-time student composition, as records reveal that 88 percent of students now are enrolled as full-timers.

College officials have assessed that the increase in full-time students may be due to lack of financial assistance offered to part-time students.

"More students are trying to beat the system in order to get assistance. Since the Scholarship Office only extends assistance to full-time students, then they have opted to go full-time as well," said Deleon Guerrero.

The college director, however, underscored that NMC is still trying to find a solution to meet the needs of students who can only attend classes on a part-time basis.

Examples of such students are the working block as well as high school students enrolled in the 2+2 program.

"We have been seeing a decrease in enrollment among these groups of students. And we are still trying to look at ways to assist them," said the NMC official.

The total head count for the Fall 2001 semester shows 1,085 of students taking a total of 11,515 credits.

The NMC Admissions and Records Office is currently finalizing students' add/drop applications, which supposedly ended last week.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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