The folks in Henderson who are stumping for a new state college - the first of its kind in Nevada - throw out some impressive numbers.
Try these on for size:
- By 2010, there will be 17,000 graduating Nevada high-school seniors eligible for the Millennium Scholarships that would pay for their education at a state college or university.
- At Nevada's current rate of growth, the number of students wanting to get into college by 2012 will increase by some 40,000. However, Nevada's graduating classes are growing even faster than the population, and if that holds true the number could rise by 80,000 or so. That's in addition to the 55,000 students now.
In other words, over the course of the next decade, it's quite possible that the number of college students in Nevada could more than double - if there's a place to put them. There are some
The universities in Reno and Las Vegas are straining to keep up, while the fastest growth has been in the state's community colleges.
Western Nevada Community College keeps reaching out and now counts close to 6,000 students taking classes at its campuses.
The potential for explosive growth carries both great promise and challenge.
Nevada must strive to drag itself up from the bottom of states whose high-school students continue their education. Not only does a college education prepare Nevada's young people to fulfill their own career expectations, but the state needs teachers, engineers, researchers and professionals of all kinds to fulfill its own future.
Henderson has taken the lead in trying to prepare for that future, and we support the efforts there to create Nevada State College.
We would only caution that Henderson's efforts not siphon funds from programs like WNCC's, which are doing an excellent job of providing education options.
We would also urge, as the plans are being formed, that strong consideration be given to ensuring WNCC students have an opportunity to earn bachelor's degrees through a state college without having to go to Henderson. Third- and fourth-year classes should be offered to northern students, as well.