Celebrating its 10th Anniversary! Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) is one of the nation’s first four-year public colleges to be founded in the 21st century, and the first four-year public institution created in Georgia in more than 100 years. It has grown rapidly from its original 118 students in 2005 to nearly 11,000 in 2015.
GGC began as a dream of the citizens and leaders of the Gwinnett County community, the largest county east of the Mississippi River lacking a four-year college. In 1994, the county purchased 160 acres of rolling terrain in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and designated it specifically for the development of a college campus.
In 1999, the Georgia Legislature showed their support by allocating nearly $20 million for the signature building which serves as the focal point of the campus today. In 2000, a unique public-private venture constructed the first classroom building on the new campus. By 2001, the college’s predecessor, the Gwinnett University Center (GUC), a partnership of several institutions in the University System of Georgia, started serving students.
In October of 2004, the Board of Regents voted to establish a new four-year college in Gwinnett County. The new college would inhabit the GUC campus which by then had attracted more than 8,000 students. In September of 2005, the Regents hired Dr. Daniel J. Kaufman, a retired U. S. Army brigadier general and former chief academic officer of the West Point Military Academy, as the college’s inaugural president. A month later, the Regents voted to name the institution “Georgia Gwinnett College.” The new college needed a mascot, and GGC’s students voted to be the Grizzlies and honor President Kaufman by naming the mascot “General Grizzly.”
A new model in public higher education, GGC was built from the ground up to facilitate student success. According to the GGC website, “GGC was assigned a unique mission and vision. As an access institution, it would serve the broadest range of students, including those whose level of academic preparation limited their options for higher education. It would develop an innovative, proactive approach that would ensure all students had every opportunity to succeed. Hallmarked by a purposeful dedication to student engagement and mentorship, GGC would combine proven methods while discarding traditional practices that do not serve students. It would build a dynamic learning community without faculty tenure or a typical administrative structure. This unconventional direction led critics to label the college, ‘an experiment.’”
The “experiment” that is GGC has worked well. Not only has the institution grown dramatically in its first ten years, it has achieved impressive student retention rates, outstanding ratings in key student engagement measurements, and is on track to achieve high graduation rates. It has kept costs to a minimum, resulting in an educational bargain for its students and Georgia taxpayers. Its close relationship with the Gwinnett community has resulted in academic programs directly tied to local economic development needs and opportunities, as well as ongoing partnerships dedicated to the continuing success of the college and its students.
GGC offers leading-edge technology, personal attention, and hands-on learning experiences for students who want to forge their own path. GGC is a dynamic learning community where student engagement and faculty-student mentoring are the hallmark. Small classes, student support, high-tech classrooms, and flexible scheduling make success possible for everyone at GGC. The college emphasizes faculty/student mentorship. GGC has an average class size of 23 students, and no classrooms have more than 50 students.
True to its mission and vision, GGC is seen as a national model for innovation in higher education. It has a unique organizational structure that omits academic departments and other units typically found in higher education. Faculty at GGC are not eligible for tenure but are instead hired through renewable one- to five-year contracts. Members of its faculty and leadership are regularly invited to speak at conferences about how the college’s programs have helped its students achieve success they likely would not have found at other institutions.
In 2014, GGC was ranked the #5 top Southern regional public college by U.S. News & World Report magazine. The magazine also ranked GGC the most ethnically diverse college in the Southern region for 2015, emphasizing the college’s reflection of the diversity of the Gwinnett community. GGC is a College of Distinction and has been designated military-friendly by two service member organizations. GGC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
GGC offers 42 concentration in 15 majors. The college offers bachelor degrees in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Business Administration, Chemistry, Criminal Justice/Criminology, Early Childhood Education, English, Exercise Science, History, Information Technology, Management, Marketing, Mathematics, Nursing, Political Science, Psychology and Special Education. There are teacher certification tracks in some programs for students interested in teaching at the secondary level.
GGC has an acceptance rate of 90 percent. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 67 percent. The total undergraduate enrollment is 9,719, of whom 46% are male and 54% are female. GGC is projected to reach an enrollment of about 13,000 students within the next couple of years. The college has the second most diverse student body in the University System of Georgia, and it enrolls students representing 70 nations. While GGC has on-campus housing for more than 1,000 students, 93 percent of students live off campus.
There are over 80 student organizations and a very active Student Government Association on the GGC campus. Many aspects of student life, such as the Student Government Association, had been established in the college’s first year. Students continued to create dozens of new clubs, honor societies and other organizations over the past decade, including intramural and club sports. GGC also offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring and health services.
The campus has a 24/7 campus safety and security force, and employs around 30 Student Patrols (who provide services that range from collecting lost and found to locking up buildings and providing courtesy escorts). Alcohol is not permitted for students of legal age at GGC. The college’s location near charming downtown Lawrenceville, and its convenient access to the big-city amenities of Atlanta, as well as the many recreational opportunities in the Georgia mountains make it attractive to a wide variety of students.
Homeschool students who have completed an accredited homeschool program will be held to the same admissions standards at GGC as all other freshmen applicants. Please visit http://www.ggc.edu/admissions/admissions-requirements/freshmen for current admission standards. If you were homeschooled or graduated from a non-accredited high school, you can still be considered for admission. Homeschool students who have not completed an accredited homeschool program must apply using the Home School Admissions Portfolio method. For more information, see: http://www.ggc.edu/admissions/admissions-requirements/other-student-admissions/index.html#home-school.
At GGC, 75.6 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $4,472. Its in-state tuition and fees are $5,352 (2014-15); out-of-state tuition and fees are $15,048 (2014-15). Apply to GGC between May 2-10, and they will waive the application fee! Please visit http://www.ggc.edu.