LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana — Sowela Technical Community College is boasting its third straight year of enrollment growth.
Chancellor Neil Aspinwall tells the American Press (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb) fall enrollment stands at 3,700 students. Last year's fall enrollment was just over 3,500 students.
Aspinwall said he expects enrollment to continue to increase as construction for the $67 billion in industrial expansion in Southwest Louisiana comes to fruition.
"I think our image, the new buildings that we've put in place, along with all these billions of dollars of expansion, that is what is drawing our enrollment," Aspinwall said. "The students know the jobs are there, they're good jobs and they're not what we called the vocational school jobs anymore."
Aspinwall said his son is among the students and is enrolled in the process technology program at the school.
"I think everyone is beginning to realize that community colleges are the answer to improving the economy and putting people back to work," he said.
Aspinwall said 63 percent of high-wage, high-skilled, high-demand jobs require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree.
"That's where the jobs are," he said. "And that's what we're training for; that's our niche, and they're beginning to come to us."
Plus, Sowela's tuition is cheaper, he said. "Students can attend Sowela for two years and save enough money for that third year when you go off to a four-year school."
Aspinwall said one of Sowela's growing population areas is transfer students.
"Students can come here and get an associates of art or associates of science Louisiana transfer and if they complete that degree they are guaranteed junior status at any four-year school or any college or university in the state of Louisiana," he said. "That's a pretty good guarantee."
Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com