The Tennessee College of Applied Technology, located at 241 Vo Tech Drive in McMinnville, is poised to enter a period of record student enrollment. There are several reasons for this optimistic forecast.
First and most importantly, market demand for TCAT grads is high – very high. Companies continue to call in wanting to hire more grads. These are for good-paying jobs – typically $18-$20/ hour to start.
Second, TCAT continues to expand classes available for dual enrollment (college classes). The two lead classes are welding technology and machine tool technology. Demand for graduates exceeds supply in both cases. Machine Tool Technology benefited from a $1 million GIVE Grant, meaning all the equipment is new and state-of-the-art. This August, Building Construction Technology will be offered at Warren County High School on dual enrollment for the first time.
Also planned for introduction this fall will be massage therapy, truck driving, barbering, and nursing aide/ quality specialist. The basis for all of these classes is responding to recognized market demand.
For example, there are not enough truck drivers. Our aging population wants/ needs more physical therapy, and Warren County needs more new homes.
TCAT-McMinnville did not experience a student reduction due to the 2020 and 2021 COVID pandemic, except in nursing. Their recent orientation classes have been full. TCAT’s 2021 rating for student placements was 82% (70% required for accreditation) which means graduates are getting good jobs.
Now comes the No. 1 reason. At the end of the recent Tennessee legislative session a bill passed to allow freshmen and sophomores to access dual enrollment funds for TCAT students. Heretofore, only high school juniors and seniors could access dual enrollment funds.
Dual enrollment by definition means college-level classes usually with college instructors. The new guideline leads to freshmen and sophomores taking college classes early. This adds to the expectation that these students will go onto higher education after high school.
If the student goes into the job market after high school, he or she will have more college classes on their resume to attract a better job. Bottom line, this is a “win-win” situation. Starting in early August, TCAT representatives will solicit sign-ups from 9th and 10th graders in Warren, Coffee, White, Grundy, Van Buren, Dekalb, Cannon, and Sequatchie counties. What a great opportunity for TCAT-McMinnville!
Fall semester at TCAT begins Sept. 6. There have been 226 students taking summer school. Maximum student enrollment at TCAT is estimated to be 420 at TCAT-McMinnville main campus. Fall sign-up is expected to approach that level. Number of full-time personnel is now 23 (up from 21 a year ago). More instructors will be added to cover the new programs.
TCAT-McMinnville has applied for grants for a new TCAT facility both in McMinnville and in Manchester. This is all part of a five-year strategic plan. Dr. Melody Edmonds is the president of TCAT-McMinnville. On her executive staff are the following:
• Jennifer Wright – Academic Coordinator
• Dawn Winton – Student Services Coordinator
• Tennille Haston – Fiscal Coordinator
• Kim Rymer – Practical Nursing Coordinator
Melody is excited with this growth outlook. She is committed to exploit the opportunities. Last, but not least, there is a lot of new capital equipment ordered or to be ordered for the new programs.
This news is great for TCAT-McMinnville and great for Warren County. It also accelerates the level of education here. BRAC especially congratulates Melody Edmonds.