The fall enrollment at Garden City Community College was up by more than 7 percent in 2012. The spring 2013 enrollment exceeded last spring's semester by almost 8 percent. There are many factors that affect enrollment numbers, which are based upon how each of these factors perform.

At GCCC, the enrollment rise for 2012-13 largely can be attributed to Kansas' Secondary/Postsecondary Career Technical Education Initiative introduced by Gov. Sam Brownback. High school students who pursue a job defined as being in high demand get their tuition paid by the state. Additionally, the high school receives $1,000 for every student who takes advantage of this initiative and completes an industry-recognized credential. This new initiative by our governor, linked with the partnership we have with Garden City High School, provides greater access for students, resulting in a more educated and trained citizenry.

Initiatives like this, coupled with a highly competent student services at GCCC including financial aid and affordable tuition, reinforced with a high-quality faculty, makes a positive difference for anyone in pursuit of post-secondary education.

As spring commencements are fast approaching, high school graduates all over the nation will be considering a college to attend next fall. In fact, college admissions may be the highest priority for graduating seniors and their parents. Facebook is littered with posts by mothers who are wondering, "Where will my son/daughter go to college?" Deciding on which college to attend is a big decision that was highlighted in a recent movie titled, "Admission," starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

An interesting admission study was conducted by University of California Los Angeles, called the "Freshman Survey: Fall 2009." The survey, conducted by The Higher Education Research Institute, looked at what factors influenced students and their college selection. Below are the top five responses:

1. The college has a very good academic reputation (63.6 percent)

2. The graduates get good jobs (56.5 percent)

3. I was offered financial assistance (44.7 percent)

4. The cost of attending this college (41.6 percent)

5. A visit to the campus (41.4 percent)

It is apparent that tuition, financial aid, location, student activities and job placement were influential in their decision.

Of course, things have changed somewhat since 2009. In 2012, 87.9 percent of the students said, "to be able to get a better job," was a very important factor in selecting a college to attend. This is an increase from 85.9 percent in 2011 and 56.5 percent in 2009.

Today's students also indicate that the ability "to make more money" is very important. This percentage rose from 71.7 percent in 2011 to 74.6 percent in 2012 (an all-time high). Just more than 13 percent of first-year students in 2012 said they couldn't afford their first-choice college. It was only 12.2 percent back in 2009. This means that fewer incoming students 59.3 percent are attending their first college choice.

GCCC has a long tradition of being accessible and affordable, underpinned with quality and excellence. Even with a modest $3 increase taking effect July 1, tuition and fees at GCCC are only $80 a credit hour. Twelve other Kansas community colleges have a higher tuition than GCCC, and all of the four-year state colleges and universities in Kansas cost substantially more.

GCCC awards more than $5 million in financial aid annually. GCCC also provides access to students in financial need via financial aid programs. Federal programs like Federal Pell Grant Program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program, the Federal Work-Study Program and the Direct Loan Program, help students pursue their dream of achieving a higher education. Additionally, more than $350,000 is available annually in academic scholarships and loans through the generosity of the GCCC Endowment Association.

Fall enrollment opens on Monday. If you are considering a class or perhaps a certificate or degree, consider GCCC as your college of first choice where, "From Here You Can Go Anywhere."