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UNG Cumming Campus hits 1,000 in undergrad enrollment

Cumming Campus
Five years after opening its doors, the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Cumming Campus reached an enrollment milestone with more than 1,000 undergrad students.

Five years after opening its doors, the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Cumming Campus reached an enrollment milestone.

"We have surpassed 1,000 undergrad students," said Jason Pruitt, executive director of the UNG Cumming Campus. "Our total enrollment (including graduate students) is more than 1,100."

Pruitt credits the increase to offering more courses in English, math, history, psychology, and political science.

"The academic offerings allow students to take more courses and progress in their degree programs without having to go to another campus," Pruitt said. "And the ultimate goal is for students to persist and progress and graduate."

The faculty and staff have worked diligently to expand on students' educational experience with tutorial services and activities on campus.

"For students to be involved is critical because it is a component of retention," Pruitt said. "The more the students are involved and the more they feel connected to the university and campus, the more likely they are to do better academically."

The Cumming Campus also gives high school students the opportunity for a free college education with its dual-enrollment program, which allows juniors and seniors to take college-credit courses. On the Cumming Campus, 239 students are satisfying their high school and college requirements with one or more classes, said Charles Bell, dual enrollment coordinator at UNG.

"Last year we had seven students earn their associate degree before they received their high school diploma," he said.

Bell and Pruitt attributed that program's success to the active participation of Forsyth County Schoolsnew window.

 "(College and Career Development Director for Forsyth County Schools) Valery Lowe has been instrumental in getting the dual-enrollment program up and running and off the ground," Pruitt said. "She has been a great resource."

Lowe, whose father was one of the original organizers to help establish the UNG Cumming Campus, explained giving high school students the opportunity to take a college class under the safety of high school helps build their confidence. Plus, parents have easy access to the high school and college counselors.

“The families we serve feel very safe working with the staff and counselors to help guide them through the process of giving their very young high school students the confidence in admissions and scheduling their first college experience," Lowe said.

All efforts have been intentional to create steady and manageable growth.

"We don't want to grow too fast or grow beyond our resources," Pruitt said. "It all comes down to wanting to be successful."

Helping with the success are two Forsyth County organizations: Sawnee EMCnew window and Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commercenew window, Pruitt said.

In the past two years, Sawnee Electric Membership Foundation, through its Operation Round Up program has donated $20,000 in scholarships. The program allows Sawnee EMC members to round up their electric bill to the nearest $1 and use the change as a tax-deductible donation to nonprofits.

And James McCoy, CEO and president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, is a huge advocate of UNG as well as an alumnus.

McCoy said the Chamber has worked hard to raise awareness about the UNG Cumming Campus in the community since it plays a critical part in the growth and economic health of the community. He explained the university provides an educated workforce for the community and an enticement for companies.

"When companies are considering to locate to a community, in addition to the educated workforce, they are thinking about themselves," McCoy said. "They think about the community they want to live in and the amenities available. And being able to have that key offering in our community in the form of a great regional institution is vital."

McCoy, who earned his Master of Business Administration at UNG, said he is proud of what UNG has accomplished. And he is not alone. Cumming City Council will recognize the Cumming Campus for its enrollment success during the City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17.

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