While an exact number of students expected to begin classes at the GHC Cartersville campus was not yet available, recent numbers show the six-campus college serves more than 5,700 students across the region with the Cartersville campus hosting the most students.
“On Monday we were looking a little behind [in enrollment], but sometimes that’s based on the number of registration opportunities students have or the number of orientations we require,” Watterson said. “We require an orientation for all admitted students who are yet to enroll and we have had quite a number of students who had been admitted but had not yet registered.”
She said the college has implemented more events throughout the year in order to better acclimate students with the college experience.
“We’re finding that the level of [student] success has a great deal to do with how much lead time a student has to know about the classes, to get prepared for the unit of study ... and sort of build in their minds an expectation of success as opposed to coming in late, missing some of the beginning and failing to really understand the environment.”
Beyond extended student preparation, Watterson said the college this year will be implementing increased forms of student feedback.
“We encourage engagement with our students, but also our faculty. This is a very dedicated, hardworking faculty and they are actively involved not just in excellent teaching, but they are involved in mentoring and advising, they set up processes that encourage engagement and discussion and stopping by to talk and have some knowledge of who you are and associate name with face early,” Watterson said.
Watterson said while Cartersville students will continue to enjoy the school’s new 55,000-square-foot student center, she is hoping the campus will be able to expand its academic facilities as well in the near future.
“We’re very excited that over the past year or so we have had some funding from the state Legislature. About $2.2 million was dedicated to the planning and design of the next academic building on the Cartersville campus,” Watterson said. “There has been lots of input — administratively, staff and faculty — into what that building needs to be for our students.”
She continued, “It’s going to be an academic workhorse of a building. The building that we are nearing the design-planning end for will be about 67,000 square feet, it is going to be a beautiful building, and it’s going to house five science labs, six computer labs, 14 classrooms, 50 or more faculty or administrative offices [and an 80-seat lecture hall]. It’s going to be a great tutorial center located right off the back parking area adjacent to people coming in and leaving.”
Watterson said the expansion is important because the campus’ academic building was not designed for the current amount of students.
“While the student center ... has been great, it hasn’t really helped us with any additional instructional space and so this next building, [we’re] hoping and depending on the Legislature to fund it in for 2015,” Watterson said. “If all goes well maybe we’ll have a groundbreaking around this time next year.”