Georgia Highlands College (GHC) made plans to expand in Marietta early in 2022 with a new site on Northchase Parkway. The mission? The same as every other GHC site in the northwest Georgia region: bring access to quality, career-targeted University System of Georgia programs at one of the lowest costs in the state or country.
The college’s newest location on 1090 Northchase Parkway opened in summer of 2022, but the college is no stranger to the Cobb County community. The former GHC Marietta location was a small site opened on the Southern Polytechnic State University campus in 2005 (now Kennesaw State University).
GHC is a state college in the University System of Georgia (USG) and currently offers over 30 areas of study both in the classroom and online with associate degree and bachelor’s degree options at one of the most affordable rates in the state and country with a cost of less than $8,000 and less than $16,000 respectively. Students in Marietta kicked off the summer semester last year in a newly renovated Northchase Center. The first class was a summer course on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid.
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Wellness Jonathan Howard said teaching the first course at the new site produced a better learning experience because of the location’s flexible classroom space. He said the program will continue to utilize the new Marietta site and continue to teach courses at the location.
In September, USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue joined GHC leadership at a Ribbon Cutting for the new Marietta site. He spoke about the importance of access to higher education and the return on investment students can expect from completing a college degree.
“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 USG’s primary access institution in the region.
GHC is part of the USG’s newest website aimed at helping students and their families make decisions about where to attend college, what to study, how much a degree should cost, and how much different career fields earn in salary over a lifetime.
That site is available at usg.edu/georgia-degrees-pay.
Students also have access to USG’s “Find Your School” page, where they can enter information about themselves and create a list of USG institutions that meet their criteria with links to each school’s admission websites. Additional resources include links to information about financial aid, scholarships, online degrees, online courses, and student support efforts.
During a series of meet-and-greet events throughout the region, including a stop at the Marietta site, GHC President Mike Hobbs expressed GHC’s part in helping students and their families calculate the return on investment students can expect from completing a college degree at GHC.
President Hobbs stated, “We are the talent producer for our footprint. So, whatever is in our footprint, we need to know from our economic partners what it is that they need. Because we educate you here, we get you a degree here, we get you in a job here, you raise your family here, and your kids stay here. We are here for our footprint.”
He also added that GHC continues to find ways to make the whole student experience at GHC stronger for every student. “I want to start doing more things on our campuses for our employees, our faculty, our staff, their families, and the community,” he said. “I want to start giving students a reason to stay on our campuses. We find that a lot of the time, it’s car-class-car. They come in their car, go to class, then get in their car and go home. We want them to spend more time on our campuses and be engaged as a Georgia Highlands student.”
One of those initiatives that Marietta students can take part in by traveling to the nearby Cartersville site is the new Competitive League Sports starting next fall.
The college’s competitive league sports teams will be part of a number of organizations, including the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), the National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) and the Southeast Collegiate Soccer Alliance, and are ideal for those who recently competed in high school, on travel sports teams, or on competitive leagues of any kind.
More than 100 attended events this spring focused on the new competitive teams forming in soccer, volleyball, cross country, and cheerleading. These students represented counties across the region, including Gordon, Murray, Bartow, Polk, Floyd, Cobb, Forsyth, Douglas and Paulding, as well as a few from Alabama.
Anyone interested can learn more at leaguesports.highlands.edu.
The Marietta site will start its second fall semester in August this year. GHC currently has over 1,000 students from Cobb County enrolled with nearly 70 preparing to graduate this May.
Notable faculty include Associate Professor Kencho Tenzin and Associate Professor Steve Stuglin. Each teach courses at the Marietta site. Tenzin teaches religion and philosophy courses. He was recently recognized as a “Teacher of the Year” during the annual Cobb Chamber of Commerce Give our Schools a Hand (GOSH) program celebration.
Tenzin began at GHC as a part-time instructor in the fall of 2007 and went on to full-time status in 2009. In fall 2017, he was promoted to Assistant Professor and then to Associate Professor in fall 2021. This award is one example of how GHC faculty live the role and work to reach students beyond simply providing instruction.
Associate Professor Stuglin was recently selected for the 2023 Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award — one of only three in the state. He teaches courses in communication. The awards committee was impressed by Stuglin’s extensive list of innovative teaching practices, including “flipped” classrooms, Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) assignments, and use of gaming and interviews. In particular, the committee was impressed by the data presented by Stuglin showing the positive impact of these methods on student success.
Stuglin previously taught at Eastern Michigan University in 2007 as a master’s degree-level graduate teaching assistant, then went on to teach at Georgia State University from 2008 to 2012 as a doctoral-level graduate teaching assistant. He has been with GHC since 2012 and is currently a tenured Associate Professor.
One notable student from Cobb County is Labeeba Shafique who was recently honored as one of 50 national Coca-Cola scholarship recipients. Currently pursuing an Associate of Science Degree in General Studies, Shafique has an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and says the scholarship will help her to pursue undergraduate research and internships abroad that will strengthen her skills and prepare her for her future career.
On campus, Shafique has worked for the Six Mile Post’s Student Spin Podcast Network since her first semester at GHC. In addition, she has served as the Student Government Association (SGA) President, Student Advisory Council Executive, Vice President of Chapter Events for PTK, an orientation leader at Welcome to Campus Day, a member of the Honors Program, Lake Allatoona Undergraduate Research and GHC student organization Woman to Woman.
She encourages current and potential students to get involved to improve their student experience and expand opportunities.
Future students in Cobb County looking to start at GHC can apply today at highlands.edu, or learn more about the college by filling out the form at go.highlands.edu to start working with someone one-on-one.