The tech-school option

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The traditional four-year college is not for everyone. For those who know exactly what they want to do—or have a career change in mind—a technical school offers an alternative.

And plenty of Georgians have opted for that route. There are 100,000 students enrolled in the Technical College System of Georgia, which includes twenty-five colleges and sixty satellite campuses.

Forget the old image of technical colleges as purely trade schools; while many do offer certification in skills ranging from automotive mechanics to horticulture, they also offer associate’s degrees in accounting, marketing, business, and design. Students in TCSG certificate and diploma programs qualify for HOPE tuition grants, and those in degree programs can earn scholarships. Like HOPE for four-year programs, these were adjusted in 2011, with stiffer GPA requirements.

The system’s largest school, Chattahoochee Tech, has several metro Atlanta campuses and was formed by the merger of Appalachian, Chattahoochee, and North Metro technical colleges. With an enrollment of 20,000, it’s the eighth-largest college—technical or otherwise—in the state. Rounding out the top five technical schools: West Georgia Tech and Central Georgia Tech with more than 12,000 students each; Gwinnett Tech with 11,000; and Georgia Northwestern with 10,000. For more information, visit tcsg.edu.

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