In 2007, with the support from the community and a 100-acre land donation from a local philanthropic fund, an exemplary attribute to Newton County was created in the emergence of Georgia Perimeter College. The college allows students from the surrounding counties to obtain a two-year degree and achieve countless opportunities. The Newton campus is a place for dual enrollment students, transfer and first-time freshman students to earn their associate degree.
The vast majority of students, including myself, use Georgia Perimeter College as a gateway to higher education.
My journey as a Jaguar at GPC began in August of 2014. I was just starting to grasp college life’ as I finished my freshman year in the spring semester of 2015. During this time, the current students attending Georgia Perimeter were introduced to “the merger.”
The merger consists of Georgia Perimeter College, including all five of its campuses, coming under the umbrella of Georgia State University. The consolidation came as a major surprise for most of us affected by it. We had just become a part of GPC and now we are going to be GSU students. Many of us were really unsure what was going to happen with Georgia State taking over.
As typical with change, students became apprehensive of this new merger that was soon to take place.
When first introduced to the merger, we were only informed of the basics and had no idea of the changes that would be implemented.
“I felt like we were going to be thrown into it and struggle with changing over along with balancing the normal college life,” Jordan Holman, a second-semester student at GPC said.
Although I cannot speak on behalf of the entire student body of GPC, I can say we were all thrown for a loop.
College is a lot to take on just in itself, but the idea of GSU taking on GPC really made us question a lot. Would the cost of tuition increase? Will our credits we received as GPC students not be accepted as a GSU student? Will we ever be able to see the Jaguar baseball and softball team excel on the field? Would the campus expand?
Throughout the rest of that fall semester, students continued to question the merger and the professors tried to keep us updated as much as they could.
On Jan. 6, 2015, the merger was passed and students returning or beginning the spring 2016 semester at GPC now were Georgia State University Panthers. The entrance sign now read “Georgia State University – Newton Campus.” A huge banner now hung at the main building reading “Welcome Panthers.”
At this moment, I think it really hit us that this consolidation was happening and taking place sooner than we expected. However, the way the merger was planned created a way for the students to adjust to the sudden change.
Although the name changed, we were still recognized as Perimeter College and still used our current GPC logins and classes ran as they typically would. The consolidation will continue at multiple levels through the coming months and will be finalized this fall as the semester begins in August of 2016.
A lot of mixed emotions have resulted from the merge. This semester has answered a lot of questions for us, but the concerns for the future of this new institution still persist.
For Brooke Alexander, a student wrapping up her last year at the now Georgia State University, the merger has been surprisingly helpful for her.
“Before the merge, I never even considered GSU as an option to transfer to,” she said. “The fact that we can just submit a simple form to be allowed to attend the Atlanta campus and obtain our bachelor’s degree is much more convenient than having to learn another university’s system.”
The merger has not affected the way GPC allowed access for students. We still remain able to receive an associate degree and transfer to another four-year university to acquire higher education if one chooses that route. Many students are excited for the access to programs GSU offers and have persuaded students to further their education with Georgia State University.
Brittany Alexander, who will be transferring this fall, said, “I am very thankful for the merger and my future after choosing to stick with GSU.” Brittany said that one day she wanted to see what GSU offered even though she was set on UGA. “After I saw they offered a Neuroscience major, I instantly knew that is where I wanted to graduate from and all of their programs are top notch and have so many things to offer such as research and internships,” she stated.
As students prepare for the final merge over to GSU in the fall, the website and routine for students are definitely different. However, a lot of help is being offered and it has been great with them sending advisors from Georgia State to the Newton campus. Students will now solely function under GSU websites and requirements.
For students applying to the new GSU Newton campus, we will not see a great increase in cost either. The cost for in-state students at GPC was $88.67 per credit hour for 1-14 credits whereas, it will now be $90.87 per credit hour for 1-14 credits.
For the most part, what we knew as GPC will be run the same with the exception of a new name and a few cuts.
Sadly, the merger did result in the softball team and baseball team being eliminated. This caused a lot of heartache for those who were participants. We were sad to see such a great program, and its mascot Jaggy, phased out.
However, we are thankful for the activities that the campus has kept and we have even seen some new ones. Activities from ice skating in the lobby, hot air balloon rides, games, festivals and many more allow us to remain involved but create that connection with the small college feel that GPC provided.
Despite the losses and change, becoming a Georgia State student has definitely brought its perks. Hannah Odom who is a sophomore at the college states, “People seem to take me a lot more serious now when I say I go to Georgia State University.” There is a greater since of pride with now being associated with a main university.
It also helps that Georgia State is a Division I school. They sponsor 16 NCAA Division I teams with 15 of them competing at the highest level of NCAA competition. Students are ecstatic to be invited to sit in the stands as GSU students and support Panthers football, softball, basketball, baseball, soccer and many more athletic programs they offer. he merger has now made Georgia State University the largest college in the state. We are excited about the name it now gives us GPC students academically and the opportunities it is bringing our way. We hope to see great things happen as we officially begin a new journey of being a Panther this fall at the Georgia State University – Newton Campus.
Taylor Brown resides in the small town of Social Circle where she was raised and attended school for the nineteen years of her life. She is currently in her last year at the local Newton campus of Georgia Perimeter College that has recently became a part of Georgia State University. As she acquires her associates in English, she works at David Henderson’s Attorney’s Office in preparation to attend law school in the coming years.