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Stark County college enrollments up by 50 percent in last decade

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The number of American adults age 25 and older who hold a bachelor’s degree or have completed a high school credential is multiplying, and Stark County is leading in some areas of educational growth. Stark County’s college enrollment has increased at twice the rate since 2000 with numbers rising by nearly 50 percent, which is more than double the percentage growth for the state of Ohio during the same period.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 figures, released in September, show an estimated 24,763 Stark County residents of all ages are actively pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees.

After being laid off from a position as a machine operator at Alliance Castings since January, Shawn Teague of Alliance said he decided to re-educate himself, along with many others in the county. He is now studying to be a machinist, which he said will upgrade the skill level he has attained in his profession. He is working on a two-year associate’s degree course at Stark State College in Alliance.

“I am in a position to go back to school at this time, and I decided to take advantage of it,” Teague said. His previous level of education completed was high school.

Following are the fall enrollment numbers for the colleges in Stark County, as released by the Stark Development Board:

n Aultman College, 268;

n Kent State University-Stark, 4,414;

n Malone University, 2,638;

n Mount Union College, 2,205;

n Stark State College, 12,483;

n Walsh University, 2,935.

While the state of Ohio is still 38th in the nation regarding its population of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 survey, younger citizens are still making headway across the state. A report by the Ohio Board of Regents in the last quarter of 2009 confirms the fact that those in the age 25 to 34 bracket have grown in education attainment when compared to data from the year 2000, bringing the state’s national ranking up from 21st to 17th for those individuals with graduate degrees, from 30th place to 27th for those with bachelor’s degrees and up from 28th to 25th for those with an associate’s degree.

Stark County also now outpaces the state and the nation on high school completion, based on a new census released in 2009. The study revealed that 29 percent of the country’s population held a bachelor’s degree and 87 percent had completed high school in 2008. Figures from an Educational Attainment Study based on 100,000 families in the United States show the state at 24.1 percent with a bachelor’s degree and 87.1 percent with a high school diploma. Stark remains behind the state in the number of adults with a bachelor’s degree, but exceeds both the state and the nation in high school attainment, at 88.4 percent.

In addition, more than three times the amount of students enrolled in high school-based dual credit courses during 2008-09 than in the previous year, The Stark Education Partnership announced during the fall of last year.

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