The first year of students with the Oregon Promise program is underway. This program will change the college experience for many Oregonians.

The Oregon Promise is a grant program provided by the state and covers a portion of tuition or the entire tuition for an Oregon community college.

Oregon Promise is only for Oregon high school graduates who have recently graduated or for GED recipients who apply to an Oregon community college six months after graduation. The growth potential for transfer students at Pacific could be nominal.

“Portland Community College (PCC) looks like they will have 2,600 new students, additional students coming to their campus,” Mark Ankeny, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs said.

Ryan Aiello, the associate dean of student development at PCC Rock Creek said the campus has currently 300 to 400 students associated with the Oregon Promise program.

Aiello also said that the state of Oregon is going to offer another opportunity for graduates who have been out for a year to apply for winter term.

This program has the potential to change demographics at Oregon Community Colleges. Younger student populations will increase in a college setting that is more known for an older student body, who are typically in their late twenties.

“At the community college level they’re talking about, this may change even what you think of the appearance of who is on campus compared to what community colleges look like in Oregon,” Ankeny said. “Now you’re going to have this fresh crop of basically brand new high school graduates in a larger proportion than you’ve ever had before.”

Aiello said the PCC Rock Creek campus has an average age of 24 and PCC Rock Creek has the highest number of promise students versus PCC’s Cascade or Sylvania campus.

With the students projected for PCC in the first year of the Oregon Promise program and with Pacific University’s current pathway, Pacific could experience a substantial increase in transfer student populations.

Aiello spent several years as the Residence Life Director at Pacific and he said that up to 60 or 70 percent of transfer students who come to Pacific are PCC students.

These numbers suggest there is a strong presence of students from Oregon, but many other students are from outside the state as well.

“When it comes to transfer students, the population is more Oregon, but it’s not overwhelmingly Oregon,” Ankeny said. “Half the incoming class this year of transfer students are from Oregon and half aren’t.”

Will the age demographic at Pacific change the appearance of campus? The ages of Oregon Promise students seems to suggest it will not, since a majority of them will be high school graduates when they enter community college.

“The Oregon Promise students would look more like our traditional freshman coming in than our current transfers. Our transfer students typically have an average age that is older,” Ankeny said. “They look more like the population of community colleges that typically have been the average, more like 26 rather than 18 or 19.”

With 27 high schools in the Washington County area, and a projection of 2,600 graduating students who will be attending PCC, the landscape of the community college will change and four year universities could see a large increase in transfer students, but a large number of these students will be more traditional college age students.

Pacific has a diverse and welcoming campus and Oregon Promise students will add to the collective experience that educators and students have on campus.

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