Utah Valley State College students headed to the mall for the first day of classes Wednesday. But the destination spot wasn't the Gap or Copper Rivet.

School officials opened doors to several classrooms, a distance-learning service center and a computer lab at the University Mall to accommodate a record number of students at Utah Valley's only public institution of higher education.UVSC has held classes at University Mall for several years. This year, though, the school's education center moved from an out-of-the-way area to Mervyn's Court.

Some 1,100 students are enrolled in English, geology, history, algebra and psychology classes at the site. Classes will be conducted via interactive television, the Internet and CD-ROM.

"We are very excited to have these new facilities in a convenient location to serve the students of UVSC," said Gary Wixom, dean of continuing education. "Offering off-campus services in partnership with Uni-ver-sity Mall, easy access and small classes is an attractive option for many of our students."

Derek Hall, school spokesman, said the school was offered "a great deal" from mall management to move into more spacious rooms.

Enrollment figures on Monday showed a 1,700-student increase over last fall's numbers, giving rise to concerns that students will be turned away for the second consecutive year.

Some 2,000 prospective students could not register for high-demand classrooms last year because available slots were filled. Loose enrollment policies, coupled with space constraints, hampered the school's ability to handle all applicants.

UVSC administrators, hindered by a lack of classrooms, have decided to branch out.

The philosophy is simple: If students can't come to campus for an education, another campus in an easily accessible locale will be made available.

President Kerry D. Romesburg told trustees at a recent meeting that many students were taking English classes at a Heber branch campus instead of fighting crowds in Orem.

"We've found a lot of students are going to Heber each day," he said. "That's a long way to drive."

Wayne Mangelson, a marketing expert with a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Michigan State, was recruited this year by UVSC to promote the school's branch campuses at the mall, American Fork, Heber, Orem High School and Spanish Fork High School.

"We are determined to make the education centers convenient for every person who wishes to benefit from college courses and personal enrichment learning experiences," Mangelson says.

From career professionals looking for skill enhancement courses to stay-at-home mothers seeking to complete a college degree in night classes, Mangelson wants every Utah Valley adult to know about the education centers.

Credit courses are offered year-round. Non-credit classes are also available for personal and professional development.