JOPLIN, Mo. — A local college facility is hosting more students than usual this semester.

“Students can get a certificate after one or two semesters, and go right to work,” said Melissa Smith, Director of Joplin Advanced Training & Technology Center.

Crowder College’s campus inside the Joplin Advanced Training and Technology Center had its first day of classes Monday morning. And college officials tell us – things were busier than usual.

“We have seen an increase in enrollment year after year, but this year we have seen a healthy increase of almost 20% in credit hours and in total headcount, so that is really exciting for our location,” said Smith.

Smith has been the campus director since it opened in 2017. She says this is the first time she has seen the college’s Surgical Technology, Computer IT, and Welding programs all full at the start of the semester.

“I think when students see those opportunities when you can make $20-25, even $30 an hour when you graduate to go right into work — that’s very attractive to students,” said Smith.

“First day of classes are going good, super nice instructors, they always explain everything really well. I’m here to weld, learn it and learn some trades, have a good time and meet new people,” said Mekhi McGarry, first-year welding student.

McGarry is one of the facility’s many first-year welding students. While in between classes, he told us about his decision to attend the Crowder College Joplin Campus with so many options locally.

“You know, I wasn’t really a big fan of such fast-paced and I feel like here, we have got more of a two-year program where I get to connect with my instructors and he can also see me and my point of view and help me for what I need and wanna do after I get done with this program,” said McGarry.

The Downtown Joplin campus will begin offering a new Engineering Technology program next fall