Tag Archives: Georgia State

What will Georgia Perimeter, Georgia State Merger Mean for Students?

Georgia Perimeter campus in Decatur

Georgia Perimeter is about to become part of Georgia State.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday on the expectation that University System of Georgia chancellor Hank Huckaby — himself a Georgia State man — would propose the merger of the massive downtown juggernaut that is Georgia State University with the sleepy, suburban, eastside that is Georgia Perimeter College.

When this news came across my Twitter stream last night while I was half-listening to my 6-year-old read a book before bed, I was rather staggered. See, I went to Georgia State before they drummed me out for being too poor and stupid. Some 10 years on, I’ve found an educational haven at Georgia Perimeter, where late last year I completed two online courses with two As (and one of them was a college algebra class).

Immediately, I encountered the odd mixture of excitement and trepidation you usually feel only after the first time a girl says she loves you. I was dumbstruck. Might I now find myself falling back-asswards into a degree from Georgia State after all?

Here are some questions — and some hypotheses — that ran through my mind last night:

Will they kick me out?

This was the first thing that crossed my mind. Georgia State was so done with me, I even had a hard time paying them the $300 I still owed them so I could get my transcript to go back to college. Would they weed me out? I’m going to act under the assumption that I’m grandfathered in. Like the dilapidated mobile home next to the house on the lot next door, you buy the property, you get the mess that comes with it.

Georgia Perimeter offers online-only degrees; will that continue?

A number of the nation’s finest institutions have answered the call to expand access to education by offering online credits. Many have collaborated through efforts like Coursera and edX. Coursera’s enrollment numbers almost 11 million who engage in free online programs offered by institutions as varied as the University of Michigan and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. I, myself, took a class on Coursera as a “proof of concept” before pursuing a degree online, to prove that my schedule would work with an online class. And edX is a product of a partnership between Harvard, MIT and others.

In expanding access online, Georgia State lags far behind. I cannot find a single Georgia State degree that can be completed online only. In merging with Georgia Perimeter — which offers 18 online degrees — Georgia State would immediately acquire the largest online program in the University System of Georgia. So, using the above analogy, Georgia State gets the abandoned mobile home, but they also get the above-ground pool, so that’s a win.

Will tuition go up?

Oh, most certainly. There’s no question that Georgia State will start nudging up the fees and tuition for Georgia Perimeter’s students. Though the budget for Georgia Perimeter is only a fraction of Georgia State’s, becoming part of a massive research institution will not come cheap. Currently, Georgia Perimeter charges $125 per semester hour for online classes, regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.

What will become of Georgia Perimeter’s admissions?

Maureen Downey, an education columnist for the AJC, mentioned that Georgia Perimeter has “essentially open admissions.” I don’t think she meant it as a slight, but it still hurt.

Conversely, Georgia State has rather rigorous admissions requirements. Doug Roberson, who covers Georgia State athletics, offered a pretty good insight into Georgia State’s admissions requirements in this Dec. 3 article.

According to Roberson:

To receive consideration for admission, high school students need a minimum 2.8 grade-point average compiled in 17 courses of Math (four courses), English (four units), Science (four units), Social Science (three units) and Foreign Language (two units in same language).

Additionally, applicants need SATs with minimums of at least 430 verbal/critical reading and 400 on the  mathematics. Or, students need electronic ACT scores (including the Writing Test) with a minimum composite score of 19 with at least 17 on the English and 17 on the mathematics. If the SAT or ACT score doesn’t meet the minimum, the student-athletes are considered special admits and are looked at on a case-by case basis, of which few are allowed admission each year.

Again, those are minimums. Georgia State advises applicants that the average grade-point range in core classes is 3.2-3.7, SAT range for admissible freshmen is 970-1190, and the ACT range is 21-27.

Oh, but that’s not all:

These scores, combined with the GPA, are plugged into the Freshman Index, which must meet a minimum score of 2,500 to be admitted.

The two Freshman Index formulas are:
SAT FI = (500 x HSGPA) + SAT  verbal + SAT math.

ACT FI = (500 x HSGPA) + (ACT composite x 42) + 88.

In calculating the grade-point average for Freshman Index purposes, the applicant’s transcript is calculated using 16 of the academic (college preparatory) courses.

As you can see if you go to the admissions tool on Georgia State’s website, a 2.8 high school GPA with a 430 verbal and 400 math will result in ADMISSION DENIED.

On the other hand, Georgia Perimeter let me in even after I crashed and burned at Georgia State. And I applied there after the admissions director of another school told me to because “Georgia Perimeter will take about anyone.”

While this means that Georgia Perimeter may become a more academically rigorous institution, that’s not all positive. My poor grades were largely due to an extraordinary work schedule I maintained throughout college. I had to make earning money my priority over my education; and I’ve paid dearly for that predicament. However, I’m not alone in this necessity. Many students throughout Georgia need the safety net, the second chance that Georgia Perimeter offers. And the long hours I logged working on my courses this past semester, as well as the As I earned, indicate that commitment can run deep even in the most beleaguered of students.

Will they consolidate campuses?

Georgia Perimeter currently operates five campuses: Alpharetta, Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody and Newton County. Georgia State, aside from its vast downtown campus, also operates a branch in Alpharetta. The institutions have vastly different missions; Georgia State is a major urban research institute, Georgia Perimeter is a two-year college designed to serve a maximum number of students.

Multiple locations increase access, yes, but it also drives cost. There are more roofs to repair, more custodians to pay, more square feet to police, that sort of thing. I’m hesitant to think that Georgia State would care to maintain a campus several miles east of Covington when its focus has been on new downtown construction — including acquiring and redeveloping the current Turner Field property when the Atlanta Braves vacate for Cobb County. If Georgia State is really interested in maximizing that whole “largest online program” thing, that makes it less likely still that it will choose to keep all five Georgia Perimeter campuses open. Raising tuition also will impact enrollment, further justifying a decision to consolidate campuses.

Will this make it easier for students to get a four-year degree?

Yes, sort of. Georgia Perimeter offers a large number of associate’s degrees as stepping stones to four-year degrees any beyond. The school also maintains transfer admission guarantees, or TAGs, with a number of institutions. These include out-of-state schools, like the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Kentucky, as well as in-state schools like Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and, well, Georgia State.

Which means that, were you to meet the minimum 2.7 GPA requirement and complete a set list of required courses, you’d be eligible to enroll at Georgia State, guaranteed.

So, there are my expectations. It may yet take more than a year for the merger to be formalized, though the Board of Regents approved Huckaby’s proposal this morning. The merger will make Georgia State the largest college in Georgia, with an enrollment in the neighborhood of 54,000 students.

Not that it will help it finally field a decent football team.


Coach Ron Hunter a Good Man for Georgia State


(Administrator’s Note: This blog is to be read as though it were being told to you by a man much older than his years, wearing a funny hat and pants up past his stomach, sitting on a park bench – perhaps in Hurt Park or Woodruff Park or Library Plaza – feeding (and occasionally biting) pigeons. He is given to grouse, and you try to excuse yourself and walk away, but he hooks your arm with the crook of his cane and jerks you violently back into your seat, such that you’re scared try leaving again. Enjoy!)

In my day, Georgia State University had an accomplished and dangerous basketball program.

I used to go to games at the GSU Sports Arena in the evenings after class – your student ID got you in to all university athletic events for free – and watch the Panthers play – and beat – almost everyone I saw them up against. If it started getting late, I’d head on home and pick up the end of the game on WRAS 88.5 as I drove home down I-20 from the H.E. Holmes MARTA station. I loved watching those Panthers, led by Coach Lefty Driesell, play ball. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters take on the Washington Generals – it was exhibition play at best; pure theater.

Ron Hunter

Ron Hunter, head coach of the Georgia State Panthers, is a character with character -- and, evidently, a helluva hoops coach. (Credit: Zimbio)

Georgia State began to build a reputation as having a lot to offer recruits, from a chance to play downtown on an urban campus to the leadership of a legendary coach like Driesell.

From working, albeit briefly, in intercollegiate athletics at Georgia State, and from my work as an editor on the student newspaper for a few years, I saw first-hand how the team struggled to get fans to come to the games. There was always plenty of capacity when I went. The school was still largely a commuter campus; people parked, rode MARTA to the Georgia State station, attended class, and boarded the trains to go home. There wasn’t even any student housing within walking distance of the Sports Arena – you had to take MARTA or a Panther Express shuttle to the old Olympic Village (now occupied by Georgia Tech students and, I presume, still sinking). It was inconvenient to try to go to a game, especially to watch a team just trounce on Stetson or Mercer or Jacksonville.

All good things come to an end. Driesell retired in the middle of his 41st season as a coach and his lieutenant took over – a man whose tenure was so memorable that I can’t seem to find a reference to him from any reliable online source. Georgia State slid into the murky mists of obscurity, and losing once more became routine. “He Who Shall Not Be Named” was fired, and former Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes was hired, leading the Panthers to a stirring 44-79 record.

And I, quite naturally, stopped caring about college basketball. (Just as, after this past season, I stopped caring about college football.)

But now, there’s something happening down near the corner of Courtland and Decatur streets. Georgia State – pegged in a conference coaches’ poll to finish second-to-last in the Colonial Athletic Conference – is presently tied for first. No small feat, given that the CAA has seen two of its teams wade into the Final Four in as many of the past two seasons. This is a small, but extremely competitive, little athletic conference.

Last night, while my wife watched her “stories” on the good TV in the living, I slipped into the office and watched Georgia State play on my old 27-inch set. I sat in my old armchair, smoked a pipe, farted around on my laptop, and watched the Panthers inch ahead, fall back into a tie, slip back, tie again, and then – somehow, jump out to finish with a 14-point win over the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

I’ve never heard of UNCW, but then, not a lot of people have heard of Georgia State, either.

Not yet.

On the sidelines was Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, whose team has now won 12 of its past 13 games and scared the piss out of the formidable William and Mary – with whom GSU now shares the conference lead – on the road.

Coach Hunter was barefoot. The Panthers put down their traditional blue home jerseys for an orange that wasn’t quite Tennessee orange but was still unsettling. The cause was Samaritan’s Feet, which donates shoes to people in parts of the world who have none. (I could get behind a cause like that – I hate going barefoot. Even just wearing socks isn’t great for me. I like my house shoes. And I loathe open-toed shoes, like flip-flops and sandals. Toes break too easy. Besides, I had holes worn in the bottoms of my shoes once in college and walked through a puddle of some weird substance that MARTA had used to spray down one of its stations and got chemical burns on the bottoms of my feet. Even in the developed world, don’t underestimate the value of a good pair of shoes.) Students turned out for the game en masse – the largest crowd the Sports Arena had seen since 2008, when most folks were really coming to see Florida State play.

But the point is, people came. Not only that, but some sat outside on the sidewalk with tents and signs that said, “Hunterville.” On the news that night, there was a report about how Hunter was going to coach barefoot. Students got behind a cause. That doesn’t happen at Georgia State. It never did when I was there. The last time I saw or heard anything about the nearly 30,000-strong student body getting excited about anything was when we got a football team, and that was only for, like, one game.

People were impassioned about the coach – so humble that he’d coach in bare feet to raise awareness for a cause a world away. People were impassioned to watch the Panthers – their Panthers – take on a rival. People came out, braving traffic and vagrants and a MARTA station that always smelled to me of urine to watch a basketball game about a block down from the state capitol. It was televised. They talked about it on the news and wrote about it in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Basketball in Georgia has long been about Georgia Tech, who plays in the ACC with programs like Duke and NC State, and to a slightly lesser extent (again, as far as basketball is concerned) about Georgia, because it’s Georgia and that’s what people talk about. Hell, even their gymnastic program is admired – and more than just for the outfits the ladies wear.

Still, for this season – which is, perhaps, an aberration – folks are going to have to start talking about Georgia State (again). And, with Coach Hunter’s vision of where he wants the program to go and the breakneck speed with which he’s got it so far, Georgia State hoops is going to be about all anyone’s going to be talking about in Atlanta for a while to come.

Love ya’, Panthers.

Going Down Hill: Athletes and the Law

Kelton Hill

QB did a bad, bad thing...

There’ve been an awful lot of jokes made lately about that prison work farm out in Athens. I hear they have a football program, something like out of “The Longest Yard” (the good version, not the Adam Sandler tripe).

But it looks like the University of Georgia isn’t alone in its frequent brushes with the law. Though it’s unlikely any felony charges will result, Georgia Tech has had its troubles of late with the NCAA, and just this morning news broke that Kelton Hill – who likely was destined to be the starting quarterback for Georgia State – was arrested with another student for breaking into a dorm room through a window and stealing a $1,300 laptop.

My faith in Coach Curry had evidently been misplaced, since this quarterback (and a Lithia Springs alumnus) would have thought that he could get away with a felony burglary. Granted, it’d be one thing if he largely rode the bench and participated in the football program “just because,” but with the “true” starting quarterback, Drew Little, benched for violating team rules (whatever that means), Hill had the golden ticket.

I had assumed that the problems at UGA – and, to be fair, many other academic institutions with active athletic programs (thereby excluding Vandy) – were rooted in an inherent corruption that grows from coaches and administrators’ willingness to look the other way while over-feted and unpaid student athletes generally run amuck in a culture that would best be described as toxic.

Athletic directors and coaches are hired and paid exorbitant salaries to win games. Winning athletic programs make money for the schools they represent, through boosters and revenues from merchandising and ticket sales. This encourages administrators to look the other way all the way to the top. If a student athlete commits some small infraction here or there, what of it? If they can run, catch, throw, shoot, etc., then the consequences of their infringement on team rules, school code of conduct or Georgia Code would probably do more harm than good to the institution as a whole.

Coach Curry seemed to be more of a fire-and-brimstone coach. Miss a tackle? Watch him eat a kitten. Personal foul? Two kittens. Excessive celebration? You have to cut open the mamma cat and feed him the barely squirming unborn kittens.

Coach Curry’s going to eat a whole tassel of kittens over this Hill burglary.

This is serious stuff, man. Last season, their presumed starting quarterback, a transfer from Alabama who apparently couldn’t cut it under Coach Curry’s leadership, was late for the team bus, and Curry benched him. God only knows what Little did to get benched from his starting quarterback role for four games, but I’m guessing he didn’t wipe down the bench in the weight room when he was through using it.

So, even in the most rigid and strict of programs, we still find student athletes who are willing to take a chance in committing a crime. Why?

Now, granted, we’re probably jumping to conclusions here. Hill has been arrested, but not convicted, and there’s a possibility that he was not as involved with this as we might initially believe. But, seeing how often it is that these privileged athletes get away with the most heinous of crimes, you’ll understand if I’m slow to give Hill the benefit of the doubt.

Ultimately, these institutions – particularly the public ones – are here to educate us, not entertain us. I, too, loved being able to partake in the Saturday fun last fall, shuttling through channel listings to see if Georgia State’s game was going to be broadcast, following the Georgia State blog on ajc.com and generally being a fan. And I was at the school when the seeds that grew into this football program were sowed, with students themselves banding together to form an informal team, built on the support of their peers because we believed – myself included – that football belonged at Georgia State.

But even if the program generates revenue, I am left to doubt that it’s worth the price.