Student Housing: Growing student population helps change Flint’s image

The Flint Journal

FLINT — More than 33,000 students are attending college in Genesee County, according to a recent announcement by the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The total enrollment count among the county’s four biggest colleges along with several extension sites for other campuses passed 33,766 students this fall, which officials are calling a record.

FJ: In a county where young people once left high school, sometimes even before graduating, and went to work in the shops making good money, this is a huge change.

While not all of the people enrolled in the local institutions are local, a good number of them are area residents taking advantage of the fact Flint is home to some excellent educational opportunities.

People have gotten the message that low-skill, high-pay jobs are gone. For that matter, low-skill, low-pay jobs aren’t that easy to come by in this economy.

They’re looking out for their futures.

Now, let’s hope there will be enough jobs at least the state to keep more of them from leaving Michigan.

“These exceptional institutions attracting young minds is another great example of partners working together to rebuild Genesee County,” Regional Chamber CEO Tim Herman said.

The city’s two public colleges, Mott Community College and the University of Michigan-Flint, are responsible for the biggest increases.

More than 13,000 students packed the MCC campus this fall, the highest in its 87-year-history while UM-Flint surpassed a milestone of more than 8,000 students this year.

FJ: In the not so distant past, a lot of people doubted UM-Flint could grow as large as it has, especially in so short a time. They doubted the wisdom of building student housing.

Well, thanks to those with vision, UM-Flint is no longer just a commuter college with an enrollment made up of mainly non-traditional students.

Downtown Flint has changed right along with the university. New businesses, such as a grocery store and more restaurants, have popped up to accommodate a round-the-clock student population.

Onetime eyesores such as the Durant Hotel are now seeking tenants.

Public and private investment in the ongoing revitalization efforts has continued despite the economy.

Drive along S. Saginaw Street. Downtown looks vastly different than it did a decade ago.

While the influx of college students at UM-Flint and the city’s other educational institutions isn’t directly responsible for that, it certainly has helped Flint over the hump.

And many are hoping the high enrollment count is one sign this onetime auto town could be turning into a college town.

“If you look at the most successful economic areas, places like Boston, Texas and Ann Arbor, they are invariably the best educated communities,” MCC Spokesman Michael Kelly said. “Flint has some catching up to do and Genesee County has some catching up to do.

“For many years, you could make a good living with a job right after high school, so consequently, we are disproportionately under-educated in this community.”

Also contributing to enrollment is student populations at Baker College of Flint, Kettering University, Cleary University, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Spring Arbor University and ITT Technical Institute.

FJ: College town. Of the many labels that have been pasted on our central city in recent years, this is the one we hope sticks.


Be Sociable, Share!
Leave a Reply