Columbus Technical College is riding an 8 percent increase in student enrollment for this fall semester compared to last year, officials said Thursday.
A report from the Technical College System of Georgia shows that school enrollment is 4,229 students, or a 7.8 percent increase over 2011.
Bob Jones, president of the school, said there is not one specific program that influenced the increase, but enrollment is doing well in the associate's degree in science in general studies program, the medical program, the criminal justice program and the business program.
"It's difficult to put your finger on one specific thing and say that is it," Jones said. "I think it is a combination of factors, and I think the college's reputation has grown over the years."
Columbus Tech offers an associate's degree in science in general studies for people who need a degree but haven't made a decision.
"That program has done very well," Jones said. "I believe we have about 180 students in that program at the moment."
Jones singled out the $26 million Robert L. Wright Jr. Health Sciences Center on River Road, where students study to become nurses, dental hygienists, radiologists and other specialists.
"The center is a major impact," he said. "It gives us a totally different presence. People want to be part of it, and it's second to none. I think that is a recruiting tool in and of itself."
He said the college seems to be attracting students that wouldn't have considered Columbus Tech years ago.
"We have seen more and more students come to Columbus Tech as their first choice that would not have considered Columbus Tech several years ago," Jones said. "I think word of mouth and students bringing other students make a difference too."
Money was a factor for Nolan Harris when he selected Columbus Tech instead of going to college in Atlanta. He wanted to get an education and not work at a minimum wage job for the rest of his life. "I think education is very important," said Harris, a computer science major.