Adam Erickson enrolled as a student at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Grove Higher Education Center for three simple reasons.

The convenience. The quality. The welcoming atmosphere.

For Erickson, a sophomore education major, the opportunity to take college courses in his own backyard was one he wasn’t about to miss.

“I appreciate that there is a campus in my hometown,” the Grove resident said. “It is an added benefit that the staff and faculty here are so helpful. Anything I need, they make time for me.”

Erickson is not the only one to have noticed what the NEO Grove Higher Education Center has to offer.

Enrollment has grown by 15.7 percent over past year, said Amy Ishmael, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.

The headcount at the NEO Grove campus reached 220 this fall as compared to 190 in 2008.

The increasing enrollment at Grove parallels the growth the college has experienced overall. The total student headcount has reached 2160 students, a 20 percent increase from the 1803 who enrolled last year, said Ishmael.

To meet the needs of the increasing number of students at Grove, NEO has expanded its number of class sections.

“The rising number of students who have decided to enroll at the NEO Grove Higher Education Center is indicative of the need the campus fills,” Dr. Jeffery Hale, president, said. “Residents of Grove, Delaware County and their surrounding communities have the opportunity to earn college credit in a location that is convenient to them. The college is committed to helping more students discover that the NEO Grove Higher Education Center is the place for them to start earning their associate’s degree.”

Grove students can complete an associate’s degree in general studies, psychology, and- with additional on-line courses- business administration, said Ishmael.

The Grove campus is also home to the Fast-Track-to-RN program, which enables certified paramedics and licensed practical nurses to earn their registered nurse certification in a single year. Enrollment for the Fast-Track program has reached 18 students, the largest it has been in its five-year history.

Area high school students have benefited from the Grove campus, as well. Qualifying junior and senior-level high school students can take courses at NEO tuition-free. Nineteen junior and senior students from Grove and Jay are enrolled for concurrent courses this semester, said Ishmael. This reflects an increase from nine concurrent students in 2008.

Inside the 10,000-square-foot NEO Grove Higher Education Center, six of the classrooms and one lab have received upgrades for instructional technology and distance education equipment, said Dr. Tim Faltyn, vice president for academic affairs. The campus is equipped with interactive learning tools such as a SMART Board, as well as wireless Internet capabilities.

“The college has invested a great deal in technology and in people to make the educational enterprise at the NEO Grove Higher Education Center engaging and informative,” said Faltyn. “We believe that we have accomplished our goal of providing cutting-edge technology with the traditional campus experience that NEO has been known for.”