Adults who have considered going back to college to complete their degrees will have an ideal opportunity on Oct. 13 to learn about resources provided by the University of North Georgia (UNG) to help them reach that goal, including an established network of support and online and evening classes.
UNG's Gainesville Campus will host a "Go Back. Move Ahead." information session featuring UNG staff who will answer questions and assist those who are interested in applying for admission. There will be representatives from admissions, financial aid, and advisors from UNG's Center for Adult Learners and Military. Additionally, Heather Branch, radio personality from Atlanta's Star 94 Middays program, will be at the event with prizes and entertainment.
"This is a chance for anyone who is thinking about going back to college to get their degree," said Keith Antonia, director of admissions. "We have a team of professionals who are looking forward to talking with folks about the academic pathways that may fit their goals, schedules and financial situations."
On July 29, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson announced the statewide "Go Back. Move Ahead." campaign to encourage the 1.1 million working-age adults, or 22 percent of the state's population, who attended college for some time but did not finish. The initiative will offer Georgians a simpler enrollment process, more flexible ways to transfer earned college credits, additional course schedule options and a personal academic advisor – services already available at UNG.
"In order for Georgia to remain economically competitive, we must have an educated work force, and focusing on college completion is one way we intend to do that," Deal said. "'Go Back. Move Ahead.' provides resources for prospective students and makes it easy for any Georgian who has started college to go back to school and earn a degree or certificate."
Recent UNG graduate Jana Simpson embodies the mission of the campaign.
While attending Macon State University in 1989, Simpson also began working full time. She soon found herself struggling to contribute so many hours to education and work, and when her job transferred her to Gainesville, she stopped taking classes altogether.
She returned to college in 2003. Married and with a full-time career, Simpson said finding time to devote to her education was challenging. However, she took her time, and said that many of her faculty were very understanding and helpful. She graduated this summer with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in management.
"To other adults considering returning to college, I would say that if you are able to do so after weighing your current position, then you definitely should," Simpson said. "Education is so important to further your skills or career."
"Go Back. Move Ahead." is a part of Gov. Deal's Complete College Georgia initiative, which launched in 2011. It is projected that by 2020, more than 60 percent of jobs in Georgia will require a college certificate or degree. Presently, however, only 42 percent of the state's young adults have earned a college credential — creating a need for an additional 250,000 graduates.
In fall 2013 at UNG, adult learners, classified as students age 23 or older, represented 27 percent of the university's entire undergraduate and graduate enrollment. For undergraduate enrollment, adult learners made up 16 percent of full-time students and 43 percent of part-time students – numbers that have increased from the previous year.
"It is natural for us at UNG to focus on this population because adult learners make up a quarter of our entire undergraduate student population," said Chaudron Gille, UNG's associate vice president for university affairs and academic services. "Adult learners typically are very focused and motivated to succeed in their studies, but they also may be insecure about their abilities as a student because they feel that their study skills are rusty."
The information session begins at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Ballroom. There will be a brief presentation at 7:30 p.m. about UNG, and at 8 p.m., prospective students will be given the opportunity to apply for admission to UNG and ask additional questions. The event will end at 9 p.m.