TIFTON - Enrollment at the Tiftarea campus of Moultrie Technical College is at an all-time high, officials said Thursday.

The number of students enrolled locally for this fall quarter is 658, up from 545 last fall, Vice President of Operations Richard Strickland said. The total is the largest since the school opened in 1998 and represents a third of all Moultrie Technical College enrollment.

Another 175 credit students attend classes at the Ashburn campus and 45 in Sumner. Strickland also oversees both of those sites.

Strickland said he thinks the economy accounts for some of the increase, since enrollment at colleges and technical centers usually rises during an economic downturn as workers who can't find jobs go back to retrain.

"But I think it's also having added program offerings," said Strickland. "When you offer more programs, you're naturally going to attract more students than otherwise."

Another 247 students receive adult basic education services on campus, Strickland said. "These students come to us for a variety of reasons," he said. "Most are seeking the GED credential, certifying that he or she has attained subject matter knowledge and skills associated with high school completion."

The Tiftarea campus awarded 499 GED diplomas last year. Other adult basic education students are enrolled in family literacy, English as a second language or TANF programs. MTC also provides adult basic education to inmates at local correctional facilities and has cooperative agreements with the Tift County Board of Education, Abraham Baldwin College, Head Start, the Department of Family and Children Services and Literacy Volunteers of America.

Overall, Moultrie Technical College has 1,890 students enrolled in technical certificate, diploma and associate degree programs on its four campuses. Its total enrollment is up 9 percent from last year.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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