College instruction program
more like a small liberal arts college
By Rob Jenkins
Chair, Humanities Department
Georgia Perimeter College
Special to GwinnettForum.com
AUG. 23, 2002 -- As excited as Gwinnettians are to have their own
four-year institution, a sticking point for some students may be
the perceived stigma of attending a two-year college. Two-year colleges
are sometimes thought to be academically inferior and often referred
to disparagingly as "junior" or "community"
In some cases, students are actively discouraged from considering
a two-year college on the assumption that it won't have as much
to offer intellectually.
That is simply not the case at Gwinnett University Center. Georgia
Perimeter, GUC's partnering two-year college, views itself not as
a junior college, but as the first two years of a four-year school.
We believe the academic experience here is more akin to what students
would find at a small liberal arts college.
A smaller campus means smaller classes and personalized attention.
Students know their teachers and teachers know them by name. Students
are encouraged to take an active role in their own education rather
than just being lectured to. In fact, the enormous lecture classes
are nonexistent at GUC, where the largest classroom seats fewer
than 70 and most hold between 20 and 36.
Another strong suit of two-year colleges is their focus on teaching.
If I had to pick GPC's strongest asset, it would be the professors.
Their first priority is teaching, not publishing or research. At
many big four-year schools, underclassmen may rarely see a professor
--- or see him/her only at a distance. In contrast, GPC typically
uses fully qualified instructors, most with years of experience
and many at the rank of assistant professor or above, versus teaching
or graduate assistants.
To complement the emphasis on teaching, two-year colleges also
tend to have extensive support mechanisms in place for students.
The Instructional Support Services Lab at GUC, for instance, offers
free tutoring for all students in mathematics, writing, and reading,
as well as in a number of other subject areas. We also offer counseling,
testing support, library services, open computer labs and a dynamic
student life program, offering 300-plus special events annually
for our students.
Cost is another big draw. Tuition and fees for a full-time student
at GPC are only about $1,500/year, as compared to over $2,500 at
one of the state's research universities. Even the smaller regional
colleges run about $2,400.
For Hope Scholars tuition may not be an issue, but the cost of
living away from home is another matter. Fees for room and board
in the state system range from $3,800 to over $5,000. Having their
college-age student live at home is clearly attractive to many parents,
who relish the savings and may feel the student is not yet ready
for the responsibilities and temptations of living on a big college
What makes GUC unique is its non-traditional approach to the traditional
college experience by offering the best of both worlds through its
partnership between Georgia Perimeter College and UGA. We invite
you to come explore where you fit in!
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