SAN MARCOS — Thousands of students made their way back to campus on Monday and Tuesday, January 30-31, 2023, for the beginning of the Spring semester at Palomar College.

The main campus and Education Centers in Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook were in full swing, with hundreds of classes and all student services available.

“It’s truly inspiring when the semester kicks off and we see our students filling the classrooms and common areas to continue pursuing their dreams and educational goals,” said Palomar College Superintendent/President Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey.

Palomar College provides pathways for students to earn an Associates degree or certificate, transfer to a 4-year institution, train for a new career or refine their skill sets, and some are exploring new hobbies or interests. Students are able to take classes on-site, online or both. Student services are also available in remote format and in person.

The overall number of students at the beginning of the Spring semester increased by about 4 percent year-over-year, with more than 17,600 enrolled and attending classes at one of Palomar’s locations throughout North County.

“Students have informed us of their need for flexibility in their learning schedules, and we have adapted our traditional class schedule to ensure there is a balance between onsite and online course offerings,” said Dr. Rivera-Lacey.

At the San Marcos campus, students said they were enjoying the first week of school.

Originally from Thailand, Koncsapsat Connell came to California to attend college and is now nearing the end of her second year at Palomar, with plans to transfer to Cal State San Marcos, where she will major in Business.

“Online classes are easy, but it’s fun to come to campus, as well, because you can see people you’ve missed,” Connell said. “The one thing I want to recommend to other people are the ESL classes at Palomar College—the professors are very good, their classes are simple and easy to understand, and they care a lot about the students.”

Corey Weiss, who went to high school in Oceanside, said he was just beginning the Emergency Medical Education (EME) program, which meets at the Escondido campus. He was in San Marcos on Tuesday for his first English class since leaving high school over a decade ago.

“The people I met in class are very nice, and the professors definitely want you to be engaged with your classmates,” said Weiss. “I’ve been out of school for a while, but Palomar seems like a great place.”

A former tradesman, Art Milan was on his way home from a Photography class in San Marcos.

“I decided it was time to refresh my skills in the academic field, but it’s been 40 years since I was in school,” said Milan, who helped build some of the buildings at Cal State San Marcos during his career as a structural welder. “I can’t really do that work any more—climbing buildings like I used to—so I’m retraining right now.”

“But this,” he said, indicating the campus and the students crossing the Clocktower Commons, “This is refreshing, it takes me back to my youth.”

The Palomar Community College District (PCCD) no longer has a COVID-19 vaccination mandate in effect, but facial coverings are still strongly recommended in indoor settings.