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Economy causes spike in Queensboro pupils

Bayside’s Queensborough Community College is experiencing a 20 percent increase in new full-time students this fall due to an ailing economy and families sending their children to public institutions rather than private universities, the college’s president said.

The school has 14,115 new students this fall as opposed to the 12,888 students the college added to its student body last year at the same time. Eduardo Marti, the school’s president, said 97 percent of its new freshmen have enrolled full-time.

“Community colleges have been put on the front burner by President [Barack] Obama’s acknowledgement that we are the hope for economic recovery in this country,” he said. “Middle-class families who would have sent their children to private schools have opted to send their children to public colleges and universities due to the economy. Selectivity at public colleges has increased dramatically, so students who would typically go to Queens College are now coming to Queensborough.”

More students are returning to school, especially community colleges, as the national economy continues to struggle, Marti said.

He said another large draw for the college is the introduction of its freshmen academies, which provide full-time freshmen students with personalized academic support and other services.

“They are designed to enhance students’ support services,” he said. “Each academy has service-learning activities that make the curriculum more relevant. For example, students in mathematics teach high school students math or Spanish students teach Spanish speakers literacy.”

Students in the academies are assigned to a relationship manager, who is in charge of helping them navigate college life. The manager will monitor the students’ progress to determine whether tutoring is necessary.

The college’s liberal arts program is still the most popular with students, but its health-related fields are also bringing in more new students, Marti said. Queensborough has introduced some new programs in the past few years that are attracting new students, he said.

“We have the only gallery and museum studies program at CUNY,” Marti said. “Those who have an artistic bent can easily find a good job. The business of art is complicated, from shipping and insurance to marketing and exhibition. Those are skills that are sought after in New York City. Here we provide it at a really low cost.”

That program currently has 80 students and is growing, he said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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