By Nicholas J. Godfrey
Georgia Highlands College (GHC) has been in Marietta for more than 15 years, sharing a location with Southern Polytechnic State University (a school that is now part of Kennesaw State University). This summer, GHC looks to expand its operations by giving students more options at a new location at 1090 Northchase Parkway.
This will be the college’s first big expansion in the area since opening its campus in Marietta in 2005. Currently, GHC serves students from more than 30 counties in northwest Georgia with sites in Marietta, Rome, Cartersville, and Dallas. The college also provides a robust online option, as well, called GHC Online.
Georgia Highlands College has been educating students for more than 50 years as a member of the University System of Georgia. When David B. McCorkle was appointed as the first college president in 1970, the institution had just 19 faculty members who taught 545 students on a single, 233-acre campus in Rome on U.S. Highway 27.
Over the decades, GHC expanded throughout northwest Georgia with its access mission in mind, climbing to the second highest enrollment among state colleges and the second highest economic impact. The school’s current economic impact is more than $170 million and was part of the system directly and indirectly generating more than 155,000 jobs in the state.
Georgia Highlands College has a history of keeping its programs career-focused by identifying local workforce needs, as well as state and national trends, to modify its curriculum accordingly. In the past, this has resulted in the formation of a regional police academy, a journalism pathway directly tied to the Georgia Press Association, and a program in deaf education implemented to offer education and training for paraprofessionals seeking careers in the nearby Georgia School for the Deaf.
Today, among GHC’s long-running programs in nursing (formed in 1971) and dental hygiene (formed in 1990), are several rapidly growing areas created in collaboration with business, community, and industry leaders. One example is GHC’s newest bachelor’s degree in building information modeling management (BIMM), which started spring 2022 after approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Building information modeling is the technology-driven process for estimating, creating, and managing information and visuals on a construction project. A building information model represents a 3D version of every aspect of the project, from facade to foundation to structural steel. This degree was designed by GHC in collaboration with engineering and construction industry leaders.
Georgia Highlands College worked with construction technology firm Trimble to design curriculum for the program, as well as software design company SDS2. Through these partnerships, each company also donated some of the most cutting-edge technology and software for students to use at no additional cost. The same careful approach to finding the right programs for students that they can utilize in a career after graduating college can be seen in many of GHC’s degree options.
Students can follow their artistic passion with GHC’s film program by learning the skills necessary to work in one of the fastest growing industries right here in Georgia. They choose between a Film Studies or a Film Production track, which puts them on the path to join any one of the hundreds of productions currently underway in Georgia for movies like Marvel’s “Avengers” series or Netflix shows like “Stranger Things.”
Since the State of Georgia’s creation of the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, Georgia has established itself as a leading production hub for both feature films and television productions. Or, if a student has a desire for technology, they can pursue a degree in Financial Technology (or FinTech), which has such a rising demand for trained graduates in Georgia, which is quickly becoming the “FinTech capital of the world.”
FinTech focuses on technologies aimed at upending portions of the financial world, such as payments, wealth management, lending, insurance, and currency. Students enrolled in the FinTech program will obtain a multifaceted education encompassing a breadth of topic areas such as credential security, blockchain applications, and virtual currencies.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in what GHC offers. Among its growing list of more than 40 areas of study are bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice, Health Sciences, Healthcare Management, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and associate degrees in Recreation Administration, Sport Management, Graphic Design, Education, and so many more.
But at GHC, it isn’t only about what students can earn — it’s also about how much they will pay. Providing access to low-cost college degree options in Georgia through one of the lowest tuition rates in the country has long been part of the mission at GHC. The college is touted year after year for its costs, hailed as the most affordable four-year college in Georgia by Scholarship Owl, and listed on the College Scorecard as the best value in the state.
Georgia Highlands College currently offers options to complete an associate degree or bachelor’s degree entirely in the classroom or online at one of the most affordable rates in the country with a cost of less than $8,000 for an associate degree and less than $16,000 for a bachelor’s degree.
In a time when students and parents are looking for ways to pay for college without accruing significant debt, many choose GHC for its costs and its convenient locations. However, students soon find the supportive atmosphere and the focus on completing a college degree quickly with a career in mind brings an even greater level of depth to their experience at the college.
Because affordability and access are baked into its mission, the high-quality curriculum found at GHC and other colleges within the University System of Georgia help maintain Georgia Highlands College as a top choice while remaining a champion of low-cost college degrees.
With the opening of a new location at 1090 Northchase Parkway in Marietta, GHC further opens up opportunities for students to earn an excellent, career-focused degree for less than the cost of most other colleges.
At the top of GHC’s renovation priorities for the new location is creating a sense of community for students with tools to help them be successful at GHC while attending in Marietta. The new site will include a centralized GHC experience with classrooms, study rooms, and common areas all in one place.
GHC students will kick off summer semester in June at the new location. The Northchase Center is currently undergoing renovations to further meet the needs of students and the community ahead of the opening this summer. Periodic updates on the renovations and move can be found at followme.highlands.edu.
“One of our chief goals at GHC is to provide opportunity to students through access to a college degree with little to no debt after graduating,” Marietta Campus Dean Ken Reaves said. “We do this through a range of degree options, flexible scheduling, and career-focused outcomes that put traditional students — as well as students who may have full-time jobs and families to take care of — at the center of everything we do. We see student success at our college as graduating from a high-quality program for a low cost and ready for a career, or ready to pursue a higher college degree program.”
Reaves added that moving to this new location in Marietta will allow GHC to increase its presence in Marietta and continue serving as the University System of Georgia’s primary access institution in the region.
Georgia Highlands College’s Marietta location will be moving from 1100 South Marietta Parkway to 1090 Northchase Parkway.
To get started at GHC, visit go.highlands.edu. The deadline to apply for summer semester is May 15. The deadline to apply for fall semester is July 15.