Enrollment numbers are up sharply in the Technical College System of Georgia as thousands more students of all ages are looking to the TCSG for the kind of education and training that counts in today’s tight job market.
In Winter Quarter 2009, the 33 TCSG colleges enrolled 88,294 students, which is a 9.4% system increase over the same time last year.
Among age groups, there was a 7% increase in TCSG students under the age of 21. The largest enrollment growth, a 12% increase, was in the number of students between the ages of 21 and 35. There was an 8% statewide increase in those ages 36 and above.
A significant factor in the enrollment jump was the influx of students who enrolled in a technical college program to obtain new skills after their jobs or work prospects were hit hard by the economic slowdown.
TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson noted that the enrollment increase was not totally unexpected since Georgia's technical colleges offer job seekers the opportunity to retrain and learn new skills in a relatively short time. TCSG students, he added, get high-quality education at a low cost, which is especially important in today’s economy.
"Today’s students want college programs that can fast track them into the workforce, and attending a TCSG college means that they can reach their goal in two years or less," said Jackson. "Students like the small classes, hands-on training and individualized instructor attention that our colleges offer. Best of all, the affordable TCSG tuition and access to grant money means our students are not burdened by having to repay a substantial college loan."
The average annual TCSG tuition is $1,728, which is among the lowest in the southeast. The actual out-of-pocket expense for a TCSG student is usually much less, since Georgia’s HOPE grant and the federal Pell grant will pay for most of a technical college education.
At Central Georgia Technical College, 2009 Winter Quarter enrollment is at 5603 students, an 11% increase from Winter Quarter 2008. "We have more full-time degree and diploma-seeking students, and we have also experienced a marked increase in the 18-21 and 21-25 year-old students," said Dr. Ronald D. Natale, II, president of CGTC.
"In addition to the the value we provide as a technical college, we have done a lot of work to make CGTC more attractive to students," Natale also noted. "These changes include improvements to our facilities; a growing student activities program; a comprehensive recruiting effort including outreach to area schools and Success Saturdays to introduce potential students to the college and more visibility through various events and our marketing efforts. We are no longer a secret. More people are now looking to CGTC as a ‘first choice’ institution to help them reach their career goals faster."
Today, Georgia’s technical colleges offer more than 600 programs that lead to certificates of credit, diplomas and associate degrees. The TCSG’s largest program enrollment is in healthcare, with almost one-third of all students preparing for careers in the medical, dental and related fields.