Moultrie Technical College (MTC) and Southwest Georgia Technical College (SWGTC) will be doing more than merging campuses, staffs and administrations this summer. They’ll be combining strong programs for high school students.
Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to gain both high school and technical college credit toward graduation simultaneously, with course tuition covered by state funds or the HOPE grant. MTC and SWGTC are scheduled to merge on July 1 to form the new Southern Regional Technical College, pending approval from accreditor SACSCOC. When that happens, the new college will boast some of the highest numbers of dually enrolled high school students in the state of Georgia.
Moultrie Tech, with 626 high school students enrolled during the 2014 fall semester, has been in the top five of all 23 schools in the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) for dual enrollment numbers in each of the past five years. Southwest Georgia Tech enrolled 397 during the Fall; and when the colleges join forces later in 2015, high school student enrollment will represent roughly a quarter of the new College’s total student body.
With the merger, college administrators estimate that the new Southern Regional Tech could be the frontrunner among the state’s technical colleges with dual enrollment topping well over 1,000 high school students from Colquitt, Grady, Mitchell, Thomas, Tift, Turner and Worth counties.
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Student Affairs divisions from both colleges, along with administrators from MTC and SWGTC and those from each high school and board of education office from each of the seven counties, met together on Jan. 27 on Moultrie Tech’s Veterans Parkway Campus for the first-ever Dual Enrollment Highlights Breakfast. The purpose of the event was to celebrate the successes dual enrollment has seen in these counties over the past decade but to also look ahead to the future of the program once the colleges merge.
TCSG Secondary Education Initiatives Coordinator Dianne Barker told attendees of the January breakfast that students who participate in dual enrollment programs have a decreased drop-out rate, reduced college expenses, and less need for remediation. Barker added that dual enrollment and Accel courses are not counted against Georgia’s HOPE grant cap, which means students get more for their money when they continue their education.
Joyce Halstead, the SWGTC vice president of student affairs who will oversee enrollment of high school students post-merger, said of the program, “Dual enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to not only earn college credit while in high school but to explore the many career options available to them. I am very excited and appreciative of the strong partnerships we have with our local school systems in our service delivery areas and look forward to expanding and growing our dual enrollment program.”
Moultrie Tech High School Coordinator Mandy Ponder said, “By offering increased program and course choices in all seven counties with the merger of our colleges, students will have more accessibility to Accel, and career-related courses will provide our high school students an advantage to begin college early on their road to success.”
Tift County High School senior Carlos Hernandez said, “During the past three years of high school, I have been given the pleasure of being a part of the federally-funded mechatronics program [through Moultrie Tech], a program that’s the first of its kind in the nation. Any student that choses to be a part of the program has the opportunity to acquire three mechatronics technical certificates certified by the State of Georgia, all of which I will be receiving at the conclusion of this school year.”
Hernandez credits his involvement in dual enrollment through Moultrie Tech with helping him achieve success in competitions through the Georgia SkillsUSA student organization in which he was recently elected to serve as state president.
Brittany McInvale got her first taste of the undergraduate classroom environment while a student at Baconton Community Charter School through Southwest Georgia Tech, where she currently serves as the College’s marketing specialist.
“The dual enrollment [Accel] program at Southwest Georgia Technical College gave me the opportunity to adjust to the rigor of college coursework while remaining in my comfort zone. The program offered advanced coursework options that would have otherwise been unavailable at my small, up-and-coming high school,” said McInvale.
Involvement in the dual enrollment program also affected McInvale on a more personal level while she was working toward a bachelor’s degree at The University of Georgia. “Because of the Accel courses I completed, I was able to take a semester off when my dad passed away and still graduate from college after only four and a half years,” she said.
Hernandez told the breakfast attendees that he believes students involved in any dual enrollment program are better trained to be leaders in school and on the job. “Those who go to work right after high school easily surpass their coworkers, because they are ahead in their education,” said Hernandez. “Those that continue studying by far surpass their classmates, because of the additional technical skills that facilitate the learning process.”
Missy Stanaland, SWGTC high school coordinator, said of the dual enrollment options coming with the formation of Southern Regional Tech, “It is an exciting time for dual enrollment. The opportunities available for high school students through this program continue to be amazing and are only going to get better.”
SWGTC offers more than 80 certificate, diploma, and degree programs. Many of these programs provide training for some of the nation’s fastest-growing career fields including Nursing, Veterinary Technology, Clinical Laboratory Technology, and Respiratory Care. More information may be obtained by calling 229-225-4096 or by logging onto www.southwestgatech.edu.
Summer Semester 2015 begins May 18th. Don’t wait, enroll today!
Southwest Georgia Technical College is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.