Southern Tech started their semester nearly at capacity, pushing their enrollment numbers higher than ever before.
The Ardmore technical school’s full-time enrollment climbed to 806 students, while part-time corporate and career development training enrollment grew as well. Assistant Superintendent Jayne Huffman said the institution has been growing steadily for years.
“Part of it is that we’re really big on data collection,” Huffman said. “We’ve been doing it since 2007, but now we’ve broken it down even further into individual departments.”
Full-time students, high school students and adults who are already employed full-time all have different schedule needs. She said that analyzing data from the 13 schools that feed into Southern Tech lets the administration figure out what students’ needs are. Huffman said Southern Tech pulls in about 30 percent of students from area schools, which is above average for an Oklahoma tech school.
Older students are more likely to be employees in need of specific certifications for jobs they already hold.
“Corporate and Career Development is going to be people who need a one day, maybe a short certification, that way they don’t have to go five days a week for three hours a day,” Huffman said.
Two of Southern Tech’s newest programs, a heavy equipment operator program and a pre-engineering program, have taken off as well.
“Some students aren’t sure they want to take that high level science and math at first, but then they get to the engineering part and they just love those courses,” Huffman said. “It’s growing.”
Data allows her to pick up on enrollment trends. For example, if younger students are avoiding certain career paths or older students aren’t enrolling in certain programs.
“We look at data from five years ago to see what we think we’re going to need,” Huffman said. “That way we’re aware of where the job openings are going to be and what the market is going to sustain.”
Southern Tech upped its counseling measures in the last five years, using grant money to hire advisors. She said summer marks the beginning of their busiest part of the year as they contact and follow up with students from the previous semester.
Engineering technology uses the same equipment that Michelin’s Ardmore plant uses. Other programs are also based on specific company’s needs. Huffman said updating current courses to square with national certification standards is an ongoing process as well.
“We’ve really concentrated on certifications,” Huffman said.
A building on campus is currently being renovated into a testing center. Huffman said once it’s completed, the center will serve anyone who needs to take a test for specific certifications, not just Southern Tech students.