KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mitchell Abraham plans to get a good paying job.
Right now he's working on an Associate's degree in automotive mechanics at Honolulu Community College.
"I believe it's a good investment for my lifetime and my career. To get certified and to get your degree in automotive is a hard thing to do. So hopefully that will give me a foot in the door," he said.
This fall there are 4,775 students enrolled at HCC. It's a record number. The automotive program's filled.
Kaphen Tso expects to get hired as a certified mechanic when he graduates.
"I think that's why they want to go to school. As soon as they get out of school they know they're ahead of most of the people that didn't go to school," he said.
Across the University of Hawaii system enrollment hit a record.
Educators said the poor economy has driven people to school.
Over 60,000 students enrolled for the fall at the system's ten campuses. It's a sizeable spike over 2009.
And it's not just kids fresh out of high school.
"You get people who are either unemployed, under-employed, want to switch careers coming back to school," said. Linda Johnsrud, UH vice president for Academic Planning and Policy.
She expects the trend in higher enrollment to continue.
HCC's trade training programs supply graduates ready for the work force.
"They're looking for people with knowledge. And they base it upon a degree," automotive instructor Noel Alarcon said.
Abraham has one more semester to go. He fully expects his education to pay off.
"My father owns a shop. Hopefully, one day I can take over his business and keep it running," he said.