Packed hallways, classrooms and long lines were common around the Ogeechee Technical College campus Tuesday, as the 2010 Fall Quarter started with a record number of students.
"We had about 1,900 students for the Fall Quarter in 2008," said Ryan Foley, vice president for Student Affairs. "For Fall 2010 the number of students enrolled is approaching 3,000. It will likely be a week before we have a firm number for the new quarter, but our numbers are substantially higher than ever before."
While Foley said one of the primary reasons for the increased enrollment continues to be a struggling local, state and national economy, he sees several other factors for more students choosing OTC.
"We certainly have older traditional technical college students, but we are seeing more students than ever enrolling right out of high school," Foley said. "Also, we have a very engaged faculty and staff in the community. We want our presence to be felt all around the region. Finally, we continue to expand course offerings in areas that are unique to OTC."
With many classes completely full, accommodating the higher numbers is a concern, said OTC president, Dawn Cartee. "We have been anticipating this growth and have done whatever we can to ensure we will have seats in class for as many students as possible," she said. "Creative scheduling, online and hybrid classes, and utilizing all of our existing facilities have helped us deal with the influx of students.
"Our new Health Science expansion, which is slated to break ground in the next several weeks, cannot get finished soon enough. We desperately need that building and more, but we will do the best we can with what we have in the meantime."
Ogeechee Tech has more than 120 programs of study, and the vast array of program offerings is one reason for the growth, according to Dr. Charlene Lamar, OTC's vice president for Academic Affairs.
"We have programs which will interest almost anyone, and I think that fact has helped us grow dramatically," she said. "From high school students doing dual enrollment classes to adults who are coming back to school in order to enter a second or even third career, we have all sorts of students and all sorts of programs to meet their needs."