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Upstate South Carolina Sees Upswing in Trade School Enrollment

The recession is making a major dent on South Carolina -- as employment falters, enrollment at vocational schools continues to rise, and classes are filling up fast.

"Many general education classes such as basic English and math are full," Greenville Online reports, but more than just general education classes are affected. Veterinary technician schools and auto mechanic schools alike are finding themselves full to bursting. In response, some local schools like Greenville and Tri-County technical colleges are adding on extra classes and class sections to try and stay ahead of the growing number of students. Even so, there's only so much that can be done for high-demand majors. "Nearly 500 students who qualified for health sciences majors at Greenville Tech weren't accepted," reads the report, "300 in nursing and 199 in other health science fields."

Unlike most four-year colleges, the age group of students enrolling at these trade schools is across the board. One huge group is of 18- and 19-year-olds, a student demographic which has reportedly grown 35 percent, presumed to be due to parents now seeing the value of a two-year college where once the emphasis was squarely on bachelors. Another huge demographic is of 40-49 year olds, a group of students which is up 32 percent. This spike of enrollment, says Tri-County Tech spokeswoman Rebecca Eidson, "probably reflects adults returning to school to learn new skills after losing jobs in the tough economy."

The renewed zeal for trade schools is not confined to only one part of the state alone, either -- Kelly Steinhilper, spokeswoman for the state Technical College System, tells Greenville Online that enrollment is expected to increase by double digits across the state, as "we're seeing a lot of South Carolinians turning to their local technical college to help them get the skills they need to get a job."

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