Columbia College, the private, non-profit liberal arts and sciences college set along the Mississippi river in Columbia, Missouri, has witnessed booming growth in the past few years — so much that the online campus headquarters will be relocating to accommodate growth.

With 76,500 course enrollments this year and just 2,800 enrollments with the online college was established 10 years ago, the rapid growth is clear to see.

A local online student base

Of the online student based, 4,454 of them are local Missourians, and 805 of them are located in Columbia itself, making a case for the blend of in-seat and online learning programs which allow the students opportunities to take courses at their desired timing.

Hard economic times make good education

Steve Wiegenstein, Columbia College’s associate dean for graduate studies, said he attributes the growth to the downturn in the economy, which usually means a bad time for businesses, but a time of growth for education systems, as lack of work gives people more time to take classes and more motivation to earn training to beat out the competitive job market.

“There’s a truism that when the economy is in difficult times, the interest in continuing education increases, as does the consequent numbers of students,” Wiegenstein said in a press release.

With it’s second move in less than three years, the online college headquarters has certainly experienced this trend.

A new home

The online campus will be moving from its current location in the Columbia Photo building on North 10th Street to the former YouZeum, located on the corner of Sixth and Cherry streets in downtown Columbia, which became Columbia College property last October.

Renamed Federal Hall, the new location is somewhat removed from the rest of campus, but the space is ideal for the online sector of the school, said Brandi Herrman, associate director of public relations. She said the programs housed in this new building do not require a close proximity to the center of campus, and the new location will allow for space for classes with growing programs.

Ernest Wren III, assistant dean of adult higher education and online campus, agreed that the new space is ideal for the online campus.

“We just needed more space…[and] our new home will give us room to grow,” he said in a press release.

Among the programs moving to the new location is the online nursing program, which will find its home on the third floor of Federal Hall.

New building features

One reason the space is optimal for the nursing program is the area dedicated to a new nine-bed skills lab, two simulation areas and a patient exam room, creating the set-up of a real physician’s office. The new space will allow nursing students to gain real world experience with assessments, real patients and providing personal care.

Other high tech features will occupy the space, including interactive whiteboards, audio-visual teleconferencing areas and simulation clinical instruction zones.

The online campus will cover the first and second floors of the building, providing work spaces for its 45-member staff, which are divided into three sections: academics, information technology and student services.

The new Federal Hall is undergoing renovations and is set to open in August of this year.

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