After six years of post-Katrina growth, in which its enrollment surged by more than 74 percent, Delgado Community College reported an 11.4 percent drop in the number of full-time students who registered for the fall semester. Even with this decline from its all-time-high total of 20,452 students last fall, Delgado remains the most populous local institution of higher education, with 18,115 students at eight locations around the New Orleans area. LSU in Baton Rouge, where 29,549 students registered this fall, is the only Louisiana campus with more students.
At least some of Delgado's decline is the result of a policy change, Delgado spokesman Tony Cook said. For the first time, about 800 people in the college's apprentice programs were removed from the list of full-time students. Because these programs offer no academic credit, transferring them "made more sense," Cook said.
Delgado has become an increasingly popular destination since the recession began in 2008, with some students signing up for programs that could guarantee employment and others returning to school to learn new, competitive skills.
Demand was so great three years ago that Delgado had to turn away about 1,500 applicants because it had run out of room, the result of Hurricane Katrina-related repairs that hadn't been made. That problem doesn't exist anymore, but the demand for the courses Delgado offers "is still very, very high," Cook said.