A pandemic didn’t dim the goals of the 569 students who graduated from the Alexandria Technical and Community College this spring semester.

Three ceremonies on Wednesday, May 12 at the Runestone Community Center celebrated their academic accomplishments – one for the college’s manufacturing, transportation and design division; another for health, business and liberal arts; and a third event for law enforcement and nursing programs.

The graduates have a bright future ahead. The college has a job placement rate of 98% for students in their related fields.

During COVID-19, the ATCC continued to offer an in-person student experience at every possible opportunity throughout the past year, according to college leaders. Courses at the college have remained predominantly face-to-face, with the exception of executive order closures.

“Our graduates have received an education not like most colleges who have gone mostly remote,” said Jeff Wild, the college’s vice president of advancement and outreach. “That plan continues for the coming fall. This also carries through to our commencement ceremony, which many other campuses have cancelled or are doing virtually. While we have attendance limitations for graduates only, they are still able to celebrate by walking across the stage.”

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More than 80% of fall 2020 courses were offered in-person, Wild added. All seated courses will be offered in-person this fall and several courses and programs also will be offered online or via hybrid delivery.

The number of graduates in the ATCC Class of 2021 compares very closely to last year, a decrease of 20 students.

The most popular career paths at Alex Tech these days include nursing, law enforcement, liberal arts and sciences, welding technology, and diesel mechanics, based on the number of 2021 graduates.

The debt load that ATCC graduates face is much lower than the $29,900 average nationwide in 2019 reported by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The total debt of ATCC students depends on the field of study for undergraduate borrowers who complete college. The median total debt after graduation ranges from $4,620 to $12,000, according to the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard.