NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Friday is a big day at Trident Technical College. It's graduation day for the school's 50th class and it's the largest class in the school's history.
The parking lots and library may be emptier than usual, but this lull in activity is just an indication that the semester is over because student admission at Trident Tech is the highest it's ever been.
"I think the reason we have grown is we have stayed true to mission by staying true to mission. We have been something that the students needed, the employers needed, the community needed and the state needed," said Dr. Mary Thornley, Trident Technical College's president.
The school is now the second largest provider of undergraduate education in the state with several campuses in the Tri-County area.
"Opportunity is important for everyone. We believe we are high quality; we believe we are accessible, and we know we are affordable," said Dr. Thornley.
And the affordability is the reason why Lyubo Kolev picked Trident Tech after graduating high school.
"It was a better financial decision at the time and did my associate degree there for two years until I graduated in 2010, and it was a great experience as far as just the environment, the professors and the intimate environment that it provided in an educational setting," said Kolev.
After two years, he transferred to the University of South Carolina and is now deciding where he will go to graduate school for psychology, which wasn't his original plan.
"It's definitely a great transitional step whether you are a great student or whether you might have been a student in high school that wasn't exactly sure what you might have wanted to do or maybe you were more focused on extra-curricular activities or sports or something like that," said Kolev.
And it's stories like Lyubo's that make Trident Tech the success story that it is today.
"The reputation of any institution will not be the quality of its faculty or the grandeur of its buildings, it will be the product it produces -- that graduate," said Thornley.
When the school opened its doors in 1965, there were 200 students. There are now more than 17,000.
USC is the largest provider of undergraduate education in the state, followed by TTC and Clemson.