Local community colleges have experienced a significant hike in student enrollment.
The Georgia Military Community College kicked off the new quarter with a significant increase in student enrollment.
"We've had a really great enrollment for this term. It’s higher than we expected. We’re up a little more than 20-percent. We had expected to have 1,328 enroll this term and we started yesterday at 1,629 enrollments,” Leslie Hafer explains.
School officials say even though the economy is low, student enrollment continues to increase. They say many people are returning to college after losing a job to retrain for another career.
They also say community college is an affordable way for students to earn core credits before transferring to a larger university.
Students say they attend the local community colleges for a variety of reasons.
"It's close to where I live. It's really small. The classes are small and you can get to know all your teachers,” says student Kala Hobbs.
GMC directors say as Valdosta continues to grow into metropolitan status, a two-year Associates Degree is more demanding for career opportunities in the area.
"A lot of work has been done to really help people understand that their income level does increase once they get their associate's degree and there are a lot of jobs out there as we get metropolitan status there will be jobs that have higher education requirements so students are getting prepared for that now by coming to school,” Hafer adds.
The school officials say they’ve had to make scheduling adjustments to accommodate all the new students in the classroom.
Other area colleges have experienced an increase in student enrollment as well. Officials from Valdosta Tech say they've seen a 10-percent growth in over the past eight years, but recently they've experienced a slight downturn in enrollment due to military deployment.