CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry Georgetown Technical College is on track for its second year in a row of record-breaking enrollment numbers.
The school's Vice President for Student Affairs Greg Thompson said he expects about 8,000 students to be registered this fall. He said he believes part of the high enrollment record is a result of the poor economy and students who would rather go to school than try to find a job.
"Out of necessity they're seeing the value and the absolute demand for skills and credentials beyond high school," Thompson said.
Allison Hodge is one of the students who decided to register for classes this fall. Wednesday she sat in the lobby of the student service building waiting for information about her financial aid status. She said she was having trouble finding a job so she decided to get an associates degree in hopes that is will help her in the job search.
Also waiting in the lobby was Kimberly Nesmith. She said she thought about looking for a job right after high school but changed her mind.
"It's hard, really hard getting a job, and many places are not hiring," she explained. "So I just decided to come to school.
Skill-based job training is one reason community colleges can help students find jobs after graduation. Career services advisors say the best areas to find work right now are cosmetology, some areas of the IT field and mostly healthcare.
"There's still a need for all types of positions, whether it's an LPN, an RN, and physical therapist assistant, a nursing assistant," said April Garner with HGTC Career Services.
With that in mind Hodge and Nesmith are both pursuing healthcare training. Nesmith wants to be a dental hygienist. Hodge is working on a degree in to work on the business side of medical offices.
"I was told if you get a job in healthcare you can pretty much get off a bus in any state and get a job, so that's what kind of got me in the medical [field]," Hodge said.
Thompson said since community college tuition is low compared to four-year schools, students can often get training without going into debt. He said many students also qualify for financial aid.
Horry Georgetown Technical College has also introduced an installment payment plan for students in hopes that it will make college more affordable.