GTC starts quarter with record numbers

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett Technical College started the fall quarter Monday with a record number of students.

The enrollment of 6,719 is 25 percent higher than last fall, with 1,331 additional students attending class, college officials said.

Enrollment at Gwinnett Tech has been growing at a consistent and rapid rate for more than two years now, with 11 consecutive quarters of double digit enrollment growth.

"We expected our growth trend to continue, especially for fall quarter which is traditionally strong, and planned accordingly," Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels said. "However, this increase was beyond even our early expectations. We're gratified to be able to meet our community's need for accessible, affordable and relevant higher education at this expanded level."

Student Belma Suljic said she noticed the growth in the student population when she arrived on campus Monday.

"Everything's full," she said. "The parking lots, the library, the bookstores - everything's filled up."

Parking was at a premium Monday, with vehicles lining the road that leads to and from the campus' main entrance. Students should see some relief when two new parking lots are completed, said Dave McCulloch, vice president of recruitment and marketing. The recent deluge of rain temporarily halted construction.

"We found space for everyone," McCulloch said Monday of the parking. "It's a tight squeeze, but we're accommodating everyone."

The college has a number of students taking classes at the International Education Center at Gwinnett Place Mall, which also alleviates some congestion on the main campus, McCulloch said.

College administrators report large increases in the number of students taking core college courses, such as English, math, science and humanities. Within specific programs, Gwinnett Tech had significant increases in health sciences (68 percent), computer simulation/game development (55 percent), Internet specialist/Web design (50 percent), networking specialist (38 percent) and early childhood education (36 percent).

Camelia Scutea, a radiologic technology student, said the program's good reputation attracted her to Gwinnett Tech.

"I heard about the program being one of the best," she said. "... It's tough, but I feel very fulfilled."