Generally speaking, enrollment in community college increases when there is a recession and jobs are scarce. When the economy improves and there are more job opportunities, enrollment usually dips somewhat.

Enrollment is down slightly, 2 percent, at East Central College this semester. There still are more than 4,000 students enrolled. The college had 4,127 last August. Enrollment has dropped to 4,043.

Other community colleges in eastern Missouri, including in St. Louis, also have a decline in enrollment, from 5.5 percent to 11.6 percent this semester. This area is no different than other parts of the country.

This situation points to an improving economy. There is a slight improvement in job opportunities in this area. When the economy is good, more students enroll in four-year colleges and universities. For instance, enrollment is at record levels at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

What is happening is nothing new. East Central College has gone through this before. What is encouraging is that East Central has a smaller decline in enrollment than many other community colleges.

We hate to see young men and women opt for a job and turn their backs on a college education. People who have done this often regret it later. A college education trains a person’s mind to think, mandates discipline, and is the foundation in forming a well-rounded person. A college education opens up the mind to many opportunities of interest that lead to enjoyment in many activities. A college education gives positive direction and it also gives insight to the fact that there is so much more to learn. And, of course, there are more job opportunities if you have a degree.