Local officials attribute the struggling economy to a big boost in enrollment at an area college.
Enrollment at Wallace Community College is the highest it's been in quite some time.
Officials there believe people are finally realizing that if they want to build a career, they will need some post high school education.
“The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 80% of today's jobs will require some form of post secondary training,” said Sally Buchanan, Director of Public Relations and Market.
With that statistic in mind, many older wiregrass residents are flocking to Wallace Community College's Dothan campus.
“I think a lot of it does have to do with the economy there are people who are laid off work, people out of jobs people realizing that have to have additional skills to get into the workforce,” said Linda Watson, Director of Adult Education.
There are 4,600 students enrolled at Wallace this semester.
Last fall semester, there were about 3,780 students on campus.
That’s a jump of more than 800 students which translates into a 17.8% increase.
“Traditionally, I have seen 8% increases over the past two years and when we jumped to 17.8 percent, it was absolutely phenomenal. So when the economy is down we see a lot more people coming back,” said Buchanan.
Linda Watson says the school's adult education program saw a 16% increase in enrollment.
The number of GEDs earned also skyrocketed, going from 140 last year, to 223 this year.
“I think the GED program as a whole is a second chance for those for whatever reason, dropped out, chose to leave without that credential they realize they have to do more,”
The average student age at Wallace is 27 years old.
Officials say their school isn't just for recent high school grads.
“I believe that a lot of students are realizing later in life there's a huge difference in getting a job and having a career,”
Officials at Wallace say 50% of students who take the GED without preparation do not pass the exam.
So if you're looking to get that diploma, check out their program, it's free of charge.
The numbers haven't been released just yet, but officials with Troy University-Dothan estimate they saw a 3% increase in enrollment this fall semester.
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