More Students Are Choosing
to Remain at MSC to Pursue Their Bachelor's Degrees
Laura Bowen, left, a counselor with
MSC's Counseling & Career Center, goes over the finer
points of putting together a resume with Jason Winters, a
senior IT major.
By Sheron Smith
Like many young adults right out of high school, Chris Hood was
sold on the idea of “going away” to college.
He did go away for a while, spending his freshman year at one
of the state’s regional universities and taking advantage
of the many social attractions of a big residential campus. He returned
to Macon after his father became ill to help with his care.
When he was ready to resume his studies, Hood thought about returning
to a large university but ultimately decided to enroll at Macon
State because he heard the College had begun offering bachelor’s
degrees. Expecting a bland campus environment that offered none
of the amenities of a residential university, Hood found MSC to
be a pleasant surprise.
“Macon State has a much different atmosphere from what I
thought,” said Hood, 25, a senior communications major.
“Students hang out on campus, shoot pool in the game room,
spend one-on-one time with professors and seem to take more advantage
of clubs and activities. It just ‘feels’ more like college
than something you do between jobs.”
Bill Hervey, third from left, assistant
professor of health services administration, talks to some
of his students, all four-year majors after class. The students
are, left to right, Rod Bowman, Charles Schofill and Angela
Photo by Grant Blankenship
Five years after Macon State began offering bachelor of science
degrees, MSC has become the college of choice for many Central Georgians
who are looking for a quality academic experience in exciting career
areas at a cost that is within reach of the average family. In growing
numbers, students who a few years ago would have transferred to
other colleges or universities after two years of study are remaining
to complete their four-year degrees at Macon State.
Students first had an opportunity to declare four-year majors in
1997 when Macon State introduced B.S. degrees in health information
management, health services administration and information technology.
About 200 signed on that first term. By the end of fall semester
2002, with the College having added business, communications, public
service and nursing to its baccalaureate mix, the number of students
focused on a four-year MSC degree is expected to include nearly
a third of the College’s 5,000-member student body.
This projection doesn’t include all of those who have indicated
an interest in finishing their bachelor’s degrees at Macon
State but have yet to officially declare a major. In a recent survey
of freshmen, 41 percent said they planned to remain at the College
for a full four-year program.
Macon State is evolving into a unique model in higher education,
one that President David A. Bell says could best be described as
a metropolitan college.
Baccalaureate graduates Macon McGinley,
left, and Traci Burns, at spring 2002 commencement.
According to Bell, a metropolitan college is one that serves a
region’s specific economic needs through focused baccalaureate
programs while offering a rich academic and cultural environment
similar to traditional campuses.
Macon State, Bell said, is able to successfully serve two constituencies:
so-called nontraditional students who must have local access to
higher education because of job and family obligations and those
students recently out of high school who choose Macon State over
other options and expect a vibrant campus atmosphere.
“One of Macon State’s greatest strengths is its appeal
to this broad range of students,” Bell said. “Central
Georgia will always have its fair share of students who want a traditional
residential university experience, and we should encourage them.
But this group represents only about 16 percent of the nation’s
college students. Millions of Americans are attracted to the new
model — institutions like Macon State that offer quality academic
programs at reasonable cost and still provide students with a rich
A New Feel
It was exactly that mix that made Crystal Jackson, 28, decide to
abandon her original plan to transfer to another four-year college
in Georgia and remain at Macon State for her bachelor’s degree.
Macon State’s new public service degree intrigued Jackson,
whose career goal is to start a non-profit agency to help single
mothers complete college.
“I talked to the professors to find out what the program
was all about, and they told me I could make the major work for
me,” said Jackson, who transferred to Macon State from the
University of Florida. “I’m focusing on psychology,
information technology and foreign language, and all of those subjects
are good background for what I’d like to do.”
Jackson also said Macon State is satisfying her desire for a traditional
“It reminds me a little of when I was at Florida,”
she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of students who left
Macon State for a while and then came back, and they all tell me
that the school feels a lot different and seems more student focused.”
Dr. Marie Pease Lewis, second from
left, associate professor of sociology, with students in an
upper-division public service class.
As the percentage of Macon State’s four-year majors grows,
juniors and seniors are assuming more leadership roles in various
student clubs and organizations. Lynn McCraney, Macon State’s
dean of students, said these juniors and seniors are adding to the
College’s new vitality.
“These students are more likely to build relationships with
other students, faculty and staff,” she said. “They
know they’re going to be here longer, so they’re more
willing to invest in the College community.”
Jackson, for example, is Student Government Association president.
Hood is editor of the student newspaper, the Matrix. Robert Fahey,
a senior IT major who chose Macon State over Georgia Tech, is president
of the College’s student chapter of the Association of IT
Baccalaureate-level students, Fahey said, “know that in order
to get the most out of a degree, they need to do more than sit in
class, get a grade and get out.”
For longtime Macon State faculty, the transition from a two-year
to a four-year college has been especially rewarding.
“The campus is much livelier now,” said Dr. Patti Impink,
a business professor. “It just has a completely different
feel to it. Anybody who hasn’t been here in the last few years
would be astounded with the changes.”
Crystal Jones, a senior public service
major and SGA president, discusses a project with Michael
Stewart, Student Life coordinator.
Dr. Kevin Cantwell, an associate professor of English and coordinator
of the four-year communications degree, said he’s noticed
a “substantial increase” in the number of good students
since the addition of baccalaureate programs.
“We’ve always had good students, but because they left
after two years, their effect on campus life was brief,” he
said. “More students see MSC as a good place to be a good
student, not just a steppingstone to one of the universities. Most
of the faculty have been energized by upper-level classes and the
quality of interaction we are having with students. Watching students
go on to internships, good jobs or grad school has been gratifying.”
Dr. Marie Pease Lewis, an associate professor of sociology teaching
upper-level classes in the public service degree program, said students
pursuing baccalaureate education seem more connected to Macon State.
“When you leave school with a two-year degree, there’s
not always that feeling of closure,” she said. “Now
students can come to Macon State and realize their dream of getting
a four-year degree. I think both students and faculty have a greater
feeling of community now, and it’s due to a combination of
things – the four-year degrees, the beautiful grounds and
the Student Life Center. The idea of students being able to go to
one place for all the services they need is so ‘big’
The last few years have been the most active construction period
for Macon State since the College opened in 1968, and new buildings,
such as the Student Life Center, are carefully planned to be not
only functional but attractive, comfortable places where students
enjoy hanging out before and after class.
Robert Fahey, a senior IT major,
is president of MSC's chapter of the Association of IT professionals.
When Carrie Mobley, a recent baccalaureate graduate, enrolled at
Macon State a few years ago, she missed the beautiful grounds and
“rich scenery” of the Central Georgia residential college
she transferred from.
But with the continued beautification of the campus through the
botanical gardens and other landscaping projects, Macon State offered
surroundings that Mobley enjoyed just as much.
“The nicest place to me is outside the Student Life Center,”
Mobley said. “It offers a warm environment that gives me a
sense of calm amidst all the business of school. I understand that
school is primarily a place to learn, but it should never be cold
and unfriendly to the eye. The thought that has obviously been put
into the aesthetics of Macon State shows that people have confidence
in what is going on at the College.”
While excited about Macon State’s evolution, officials remain
committed to the College serving as a point of access to the University
System. Dr. Barbara Frizzell, interim vice president for Academic
Affairs, said Macon State is serving both baccalaureate and associate
program majors well.
“We’ll always have a large number of students in the
associate degree transfer programs,” she said. “We’ve
proven we can prepare our transfer students for success at Georgia’s
flagship universities, and we’re going to continue to do that.
But over time, more of our associate degree graduates are going
to stay for our own four-year programs."
State College Bachelor of Science Degrees
Major tracks include accounting, marketing, management and
graduates for a variety of jobs in New Media, which include
professions that use electronic communication tools for business,
cultural, journalistic and educational purposes.
Health Information Management:
HIM professionals are responsible for gathering, analyzing,
integrating and managing the information that steers America’s
Health Services Administration:
Gives students a solid background in the organization, financing
and delivery of health-care services.
Major tracks include computer programming, database administration,
networking and communication systems, multimedia and web technology,
management information systems and educational technology.
Nursing: Allows students
to complete a full baccalaureate program after graduating
with an associate degree in nursing and obtaining licensure
as a Registered Nurse.
Public Service: Targeted
toward students with career interests in the helping professions
associated with public and private agencies.
For beginning freshmen, Macon State’s
in-state tuition & fees run from $228 for part-time study
to $770 for full-time students per semester. Call 471-2800
or visit maconstate.edu
for enrollment information.