Last year’s expansion of the Gorilla Advantage program to Benton and Washington counties in Northwest Arkansas has led many high school students to consider the university when making their future plans.

Especially when they discover the unique programs offered through the College of Technology.

Last fall, as nearly 400 high school and community college students roamed the halls of the Kansas Technology Center for Technology Day, one group from Rogers, Ark., seemed to be taking special notice.

“I’m a big fan of Pittsburg State. I really like the hands-on engineering programs,” said Barry Knight, machine tool instructor at Heritage High School in Rogers. “The problem has always been out-of-state tuition. Now, I think the doors are wide open.”

PSU’s Gorilla Advantage program allows qualified students in selected nearby counties in Missouri, Oklahoma and now Arkansas to attend PSU and pay in-state tuition. This year, about 30 new students are attending PSU from Arkansas under the program.

Knight said he came to education from a career in manufacturing, so he appreciated the emphasis on real-world experiences that he saw in programs in PSU’s College of Technology.

“I have some really bright kids in my classes,” Knight said. “I think there are good opportunities for some of them here.”

Jim Sours, chairman of the Department of Graphics and Imaging Technologies, said the positive responses from students didn’t surprise him.

“We believe that if we can get the students here for a visit, we have a very good chance of getting them into any of our programs in the College,” he said.