LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County doesn't have the largest of the 34 technical colleges in the state, but it's home to the one that last year conferred the highest number of graduate awards.
During the 2007 fiscal year, Gwinnett Technical College enrolled 7,102 students, placing its size just behind Chattahoochee, Central Georgia and Savannah technical colleges.
But Gwinnett Tech awarded 1,924 certificates, diplomas and associate degrees, more than any other in the Technical College System of Georgia, according to a report from the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. Specifically, students earned more than 1,100 technical certificates and 305 associate's degrees during that year, said David McCulloch, Gwinnett Tech's vice president of recruitment and marketing.
"We're very excited that we hit No. 1 in terms of the number of awards conferred," McCulloch said. "All students are encouraged and advised to complete their programs because it not only enhances their skills but provides a far more better trained employee for the work force."
Gwinnett Tech offers many embedded programs, in which students who complete the requirements for a certificate can transfer their course work toward an associate's degree, McCulloch said. Many students are surprised at how little it takes to obtain a degree after finishing the certificate, he said.
Part of the college's success has to do with the fact that many students come to class with prior college experience and are focused on completing programs, McCulloch said. The DTAE report shows that Gwinnett Tech's students have the highest level of postsecondary education in the state, with 45 percent of students having one to three years prior to enrolling. Seven percent of Gwinnett Tech's students already have a bachelor's degree.
"This is another key statistic for us and really reflects the changing face of technical education and Gwinnett Tech's role in the community as a partner for lifelong learning," Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Rigsby said in a statement. "We serve adults of every age and stage. While many students enroll directly from high school, these statistics show the large number who choose Gwinnett Tech to further their existing education and advance their career, update their skills or launch a new career."
Gwinnett Technical College offers more than 45 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs and has hundreds of seminars and workshops offering specialized training each quarter. More than 13,000 people participate each year in the college's adult and continuing education programs.