Economy spurs GT Lorraine enrollment

The GT Lorraine (GT-L) program experienced the highest attendance rate this summer since its founding, in large part due to the poor economy. GT-L is one of Tech’s international campuses and is located in Metz, France. Students can elect to spend time abroad on the campus during the summer, fall or spring semesters to gain international experience and take classes offered by Tech professors.

Over 250 applications were received for the summer semester and only 200 were selected for the program, reflecting a 58% enrollment increase. The primary reason for turning away so many applicants was the inability to house any larger number of students. Living space is usually leased from neighboring facilities in and around Metz, which presents unique logistical challenges.

“We received a huge number of applications this year, and unfortunately we had to turn away many students. One of the factors limiting the size of the program was our ability to provide housing to students,” said Catherine Bass, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for GT Lorraine.

“Not only is GT-L located at the heart of Europe, it also offers classes taught by Tech professors in English language, removing the worry to make sure credits transfer,” Bass said. Another reason why space was limited was to maintain the GT-L experience of having small class sizes and the ability to freely explore Europe on weekend trips.

“With the number of applications we received we really wanted to make sure to protect student experiences. We wanted to make sure that we had the faculty there to support our students,” said John Schuman, Marketing Manager for GT-L.

The primary reason for the increase in enrollment seems to be the downturn in the economy. As co-ops and internships have become more competitive, students have looked for unique ways to further their pursuit of a Tech degree. Just this past year, internship and co-op placements fell by 30% due to the state of the economy.

Economically, GT-L is cheaper compared to regular costs at the Atlanta campus for out-of-state students, who spend significantly less on a summer abroad at GT-L campus. “GT-L is a great investment, especially for out-of-state students. They save an average of $6000 while studying abroad in France, and we’ve actually had several students go back for that reason,” Schuman said.

The variety of courses offered at GT-L is another reason why students, both in-state and out-of-state, find the program attractive. The courses offered at GT-L come from a wide range of subject areas, including engineering, language, social science and computer science courses. Students can opt to take a mix of core courses and electives.

Accrding to Bass, a targeted, grass-roots advertising campaign also led to the boost in enrollment.

“Generally our best advertisers are our students, those who have been on the program before and can share their experiences,” Bass said.

The program targets specific majors in the Institute to take part in GT-L, partnering with different departments to design programs that maximize students’ chances of advancing their degree requirements while abroad.

Over the 10-week program, students attend classes for four days a week and can spend the three days traveling around Europe.

“One of the great benefits of GT-L is the flexibility it offers students to do what they want to do. They can choose to immerse themselves in the French culture or choose to travel across the continent,” Schuman said.

Unlike other study abroad programs, GT-L students are not led by faculty but instead are responsible for to coming up with their own plans. Still, this can pose challenges to some students.

“You don’t want to go to Greece on the weekend and carry around your books, so our students usually learn to organize themselves very quickly,” Bass said.

The response to this year’s program has been overwhelmingly positive, and Bass hopes that the enrollment at GT-L will continue to remain high in not only future summers, but also during the fall and spring semesters.