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Piedmont Technical College Newberry County Center Sees Tremendous Enrollment Growth

September 21, 2010

The Piedmont Technical College Newberry County Center is experiencing record enrollment this fall. Enrollment is up 22 percent over the past two years from 476 in 2008 to more than 600 students this fall.

"The parking lot is filled with an overflow of cars, conference rooms are being used as classrooms, and the Newberry campus of PTC is at maximum capacity," said Jennifer Wilbanks, dean of County Centers. "The enrollment growth can be attributed to a combination of the economy, affordability and new programs."

According to Wilbanks, many adult learners are taking advantage of the opportunities at the campus to improve their current employment situation or provide them with better skills if they have experienced job loss.

"Many of our non-traditional students are deciding to progress toward their dream of attending college," Wilbanks said. "The Newberry campus makes this dream a little easier to manage, with small, local classes that work with a difficult schedule."

The economy and rising costs of higher education are also spurring more people to start at Piedmont Technical College's Newberry County Center.

"In an effort to save money and come out of college with less debt, many students are making the decision to attend a two-year college before transferring to a four-year university," said Wilbanks. "PTC has bridge programs and articulation agreements with four-year universities, including Newberry College, which gets the students involved on the four-year campus at an early stage and makes the transition seamless for our students."

The Newberry County Center is second only to the Greenwood campus for enrollment, and since the distance involved in commuting to the original campus in Greenwood can be prohibitive for some students, the college opened the current Newberry County Center in order to bring the college's offerings closer to Newberry residents. While offering a variety of general education courses, the Newberry County Center is home to two specific programs.

The veterinary technology program is one of only three programs of its kind in South Carolina. The program at the Newberry County Center offers an Associate in Applied Science with a Major in Veterinary Technology and serves the entire mid-state area. The curriculum prepares graduates to assist large- and small-animal veterinarians and provides opportunities for careers in research laboratories and pharmaceutical and veterinary supply businesses.

The patient care technician program is the newest addition to the Newberry campus. Patient care technicians are multi-skilled individuals who work under the supervision of licensed professional personnel and alongside other health care providers in a variety of settings.

"Patient care is not a commonly known field, but it is one of the most versatile careers in physicians' offices, hospitals, laboratories, home care and Hospice Care," said Barb Jadick, PCT instructor.

"Due to the physical size of the current Newberry County Center, we've been at our maximum student capacity for some time now, so there's been a limit on the number of students we can accommodate, and the kinds of programs we can offer," Wilbanks said. "We have plans to add new programs that include health care, industrial training and a dedicated lab for the readySC program designed to help strengthen the county's efforts to attract new business to the area. However, we simply do not have the room at this time."

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