ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar)- As Odessa College celebrates its 75th anniversary, the Wranglers passed yet another historical milepost, enrolling a record 8,020 students in the 2021 fall semester.
That number represents a 13.9 percent increase over the previous enrollment record of 7,044 students set in fall of 2020. In sharp contrast to the enrollment trends across the state and the nation, Odessa College has set a record for enrollment every term since 2014 and sets this latest record at a time when overall community college enrollment in Texas and in the nation has taken a downward turn.
According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the number of students attending Texas’ community colleges dropped below the enrollment levels in the state’s four-year universities for the first time since the 1990s, as many two-year schools continue to grapple with sharp enrollment declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data show that Texas community colleges have seen a nearly 11 percent drop during the pandemic, equivalent to a loss of about 80,000 students.
Across Texas, students enrolled at health-related institutions rose nearly 10 percent. And OC will likely continue to see a rise in students pursuing an education in such fields with the anticipated opening of the 83,000 square-foot Wood Health Sciences Building. The entire first floor of the new building will serve as a teaching simulation hospital and will enable students enrolled in certain OC health sciences programs to complete 50 percent of their required clinical hours by caring for simulation mannequins. Construction on the building began in September.