GHC Cartersville campus marks 10 years
AS SEEN IN THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS:
Students, faculty and staff members at Georgia Highlands College were in the mood to celebrate Wednesday.
The Cartersville campus commemorated its 10-year anniversary with a ribbon-cutting for its new College and Career Center, the official opening of its newly renovated Tutorial Center and a preview of its renovated Testing Center, which should be completed next week.
“I am so glad to have you all here with us today as we are kicking off this new year and really celebrating some of the new things on campus,” campus Dean Leslie Johnson told the crowd. “... It is 10 years that we have been in this location. Our original location was at the TRC [Teacher Resource Center]. There are a few of us that were around at that time.”
The Cartersville branch started in 1995 on Gilmer Street. Construction began on a new campus on Highway 20, just west of Interstate 75, in 2002 and opened for classes in 2005.
Johnson said she remembers the first year in their new location as being “very calm.”
“We didn’t have that many students on campus, and now we have over 2,000,” she said.
GHC President Dr. Don Green, who will be inaugurated next month, said the college is the “greatest value that you’re going to find in the state of Georgia” because of the price of classes and the quality of instruction.
“But there’s one piece that we really needed to expand on, that we needed to enhance,” he said. “We’re not doing our job in taking students and giving them a great future if they don’t have a career path. If they do not have a clear career path, students run out of steam, and they don’t finish. So we’re really trying to make that front and center. ... It’s just absolutely essential to what we do here.”
After the speakers finished, Johnson and other faculty and staff members cut the blue-and-orange ribbons to officially open the career center, located in the lobby area of the academic building’s main entrance.
The anniversary festivities — the highlight of the Week of Welcome for new and returning students — continued with a celebration-cake cutting, a faculty/student hot dog lunch hosted by Student Life and GHC Ambassadors, student activities and prize giveaways.
Plans for creating an “expanded career center” began formulating in the spring, Johnson said.
“In the past, it had been one of the offices at our [Student Services] Hub,” she said. “A lot of students didn’t realize that it was there, so we decided by moving it to the center of the main campus, it would be much easier for them to notice it and then to come and use it.”
“The launching of the College and Career Center is one way to centralize everything career-centered, career-focused,” career counselor Dorothy Morgan said. “That’s what we want to do. We’ve been doing career counseling, but now it’s centralized. Our students have a place to come. They will see this, and they know, ‘Oh, you guys are doing career counseling,’ which we’ve been doing, but now this is a centralized location for them. We’re very excited about it.”
Available to students are online assessment tools to help those who don’t know what kind of career they want to pursue identify careers based on their skills; job fairs; and College Central Network (CCN), an online jobs board that was launched Aug. 1.
“Employers will be uploading their job openings that our students can go in and access,” Morgan said. “[Students] can upload resumes and see what jobs are out there. It’s a wonderful tool. We’re very excited about that.”
Faculty members have agreed to spend some of their faculty hours in the center to advise students on what classes they need to take to follow their career plan, Morgan said.
“It really does take all of us to provide the information students need to make good, informed choices so that they graduate with their degree here and they have a clear plan in mind when they get to that point,” career counselor/disability specialist Kim Linek said.
While each GHC campus has career counselors, Cartersville is the only one with a career center, which is serving as a pilot center.
“All the campuses have career counseling, but they don’t all have a separate physical location to house information,” Linek said.
The Tutorial Center and Testing Center switched places over the summer. The Tutorial Center is now in the large space across from the Hub while the Testing Center moved upstairs to the quieter room in the back corner of the library.
“We hope to use this new space to accommodate more students, so that they’re not walking away unserved when they come to us for tutoring needs,” said Tutorial Center Director Jennifer Hicks, who began working with Elijah Scott, dean of Libraries, College Testing and Curriculum Innovation, in July on the switch.
“Jennifer started talking to me some weeks ago about, ‘Hey, what do you think about the idea of switching spaces between the Tutorial and Testing Centers?’” Scott said. “My first thought that I told her was ‘Ehhhhh.’ Then we came over and met, and she walked me through some of her ideas here and we started really looking at it, and I thought, ‘Man, this is a great idea.’”
Hicks said she loves the new space, which can accommodate many more students than the previous space.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I’ve actually had a couple of people here who told me that this is now the coolest classroom on campus. ... It’s just going to be a great place for students to come and hang out and do their homework and get some help when they need it.”
She also said most of the computers and other equipment were moved in last week, but the final touches weren’t finished until Monday.
Even though classes just started this week, students are already coming into the new center.
“I was here [Wednesday] morning at 8, and at 9 when we are officially open, students were already in, asking questions — research papers and passwords and stuff like that,” Hicks said. “We’ve had lots of students already.”
Tutors, ranging from students to professionals with master’s degrees, are available for most subjects, including math, English, chemistry, biology and psychology.
“Pretty much we won’t turn students away because a lot of times what the students need is not actually content material,” Hicks said. “It’s how to study. They don’t quite understand how to read their textbooks ...”
When the center expanded its space, it also expanded its hours. Tutors are available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.
From a testing standpoint, the space across from the Hub was not laid out well and was in a high-traffic area, which didn’t make it conducive for a testing center, Scott said.
“We’re creating a space upstairs for testing that’s going to be much more welcoming and also much more effective for students who need to concentrate and focus on that test,” he said. “So our goal for this is to make sure that when our students come in, and they’re trying to get into the college, and they need to do well on their COMPASS tests, they have space where they don’t have to worry about distractions. ... They can focus on what they need to do to be successful on their test.”
The new space has an adjoining office where students talk to the test administrators and proctors before entering the testing area, and desks in the main room face the windows to keep the test takers from being distracted by students who enter late.
Being upstairs in the library also puts the center in a much quieter area.
“Once that [office] door is closed, it’s going to be silent in here,” Scott said. “You won’t have any distractions. You’ll be able to focus on your test. So just the logistics of this work out so much better for our students.”
The center administers the COMPASS tests, which are used as entrance and placement tests for the college; the institutional SAT, which is used to place students who want to enroll in the nursing and dental hygiene programs; midterms and final exams for eLearning and eCore students; and independent study testing for students who are distance learners with other universities and colleges.