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Poulsbo campus growing into a new year

OLHAVA — The ribbons have all been cut, the building dedicated and Olympic College Poulsbo has already endured a semester of students.

But there is still plenty to get used to as the school embarks on its first full year of existence. OC Poulsbo nearly doubled its enrollment from the previous semester as classes got underway Sept. 20, growing from about 188 full-time students to around 350. Total enrollment is also up at about 700 students, up from the approximately 500 who attended during the inaugural semester, OC Poulsbo Director Kelly Woodward said.

Much of the increase this year is due to the OC nursing program’s move to the satellite campus from the Bremerton-based school. Nursing now accounts for about 145 students in Poulsbo.

But there is still plenty of enrollment room there, Woodward said, noting that OC Poulsbo can accommodate up to 800 full-time students and 1,500 total part-time and full-time students.

“We have plenty of room to grow,” Woodward said. “I think that people around here are finding that it’s pretty convenient to take classes here, as it’s close.”

The largest number of students at the campus are those taking two years of courses and then transferring to four-year colleges to complete their degrees, Woodward said. Olympic College also has a “2+2” program — two years at OC and two years at either Western Washington University or Dominion University of Virginia — in which students can build a curriculum congruent with both schools for four years of study.

Running Start students are also on the rise, up to about 80 from 70 a year ago. The program enables high school students — the majority of whom are from Poulsbo’s North Kitsap High School, Woodward said — to enroll in classes for credit to get a jump on college.

Faculty at the school has increased equally to counter the increased enrollment, from about 30 professors and teachers a semester ago to around 50 for this year.

Though it has been open for nine months, Woodward said the school is still being discovered by many in the community.

“We’re starting to get into the normal flow,” she said, “but we’re still doing a lot of tours because we’re still new to people.”

The campus has much to offer even those not looking for higher education, Woodward said. She’s noticed that many residents in the area have taken advantage of auditing classes to learn specific skills. The school’s library and computer lab are open to the public as well, she said. Residents need only to come in and sign up.

All in all, the school’s opening went as planned, aside from a yet-to-be completed nursing lab for the new program.

“Other than the fact we had to build in a contingency for the lab, everything went very smoothly,” she said. “The faculty and students have been very flexible.”

The lab will be completed next month, Woodward said, and a dedication ceremony will take place at noon Oct. 22 at the campus.

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