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As community colleges struggle nationally, Spokane community colleges don't have similar struggle

Spokane Community College president says both community colleges saw an increase in enrollment every year and expect to admit more students this year.

SPOKANE, Wash. — For the past two years, many community colleges across the nation have been struggling, thanks to students dropping out or deciding not to go to their local community college at all. But in Spokane, it's just the opposite.

"If you just need some kind of basic degree, amazing, amazing place to do that," said Samuel Kushnerchuk, a student at Spokane Falls Community College

He started at the school as a Running Start student. 

"I just stayed. I'm doing my associates in electrical engineering right now, so I'll be done and I can transfer to university as a junior," Kushnerchuk said.

His time as a Sasquatch is almost up. For Kushnerchuk, getting an associate's degree before going to a four-year university was the best choice he could've made.

"Definitely no regret coming here. Just knowing how college classes flow and how to study for classes, has all been super beneficial," Kushnerchuk said. 

But that's not always the case for other community college students.

According to the Associated Press, the number of community college students has fallen by almost 20 percent since the beginning of the pandemic. 

However, Spokane Community College president Kevin Brockbank says the stats aren't a good local representation.

"I think that's reflective of the fact that we have a student population that deals with a lot of other challenges outside of the classroom. You know, our students have to prioritize had to prioritize work and family," Brockbank said.

The nationwide report says students are likelier to drop out of community college because of finances and finding faster ways to get jobs. In Spokane, that's different.

"We have emergency grants for unexpected funds through our foundation, we provide mental health services, we provide counseling, a variety of things to try to capture and address the fact that we have this very wide diversity of students," Brockbank said.

In Kushnerchuk's case, he enjoys the smaller classrooms and personal professor connections a community college can give. It also meant not having to pay as much for the same classes he would've had to take at a larger university. 

"A little bit less stressful than going to like some kind of big college," Kushnerchuk said. "A little bit tighter kind of community, a little bit smaller campus."

Kushnerchuk says once he's done at SFCC, he only needs two more years of classes to get a bachelor's degree.

Doctor Brockbank says both community colleges have seen an increase in enrollment every year. They expect to admit more students this year than last year.

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