When asked to summarize what has been happening at the College of Coastal Georgia during his first three years as president, Dr. Greg Aloia replied enthusiastically with three words, "Accessible, Affordable, and Awesome!" And the College has the credentials to back it up.
In only its eighth year as a four-year institution, CCGA finds itself with record enrollment, a national ranking as a top public institution in the South, and a reputation for providing high-quality education at an affordable price. "Established as a 'college of choice' for the State of Georgia and beyond, Coastal Georgia continues to fulfill our mission to provide accessible, high-quality, affordable learning opportunities while strengthening our commitment to academic excellence and innovation. That's pretty awesome in my book," said Aloia.
Over the past three years, the College has grown exponentially, increasing its enrollment, degree offerings and improving academic excellence. This fall, the College logged its highest enrollment in history at 3,529 students, leading all 29 institutions in the University System of Georgia with a 12.7% enrollment growth over last fall. Since Aloia's arrival, the College has increased enrollment by almost 19% and over 500 students.
"Of course we are proud of the enrollment growth," said Dr. Jason Umfress, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, "but we are most proud of being able to provide access to a diverse population of students." Increases in first time, full-time freshmen students, veterans, Move On When Ready (MOWR) students, adult learners, and in-state, out-of-state and international enrollees provide a healthy mix of new students to the population. "We have taken important steps the past few years to streamline the admissions process and to ensure we remain accessible to our community, our state, and beyond," Umfress said.
Since student indebtedness is one of the most pressing concerns facing higher education today, CCGA has creatively implemented several innovative, cost-cutting initiatives that have trimmed the price of attendance by $1.8 million. "From, reducing the cost of textbooks and lowering student fees, to streamlining graduation requirements, we are serious about doing all we can to help make college affordable for our students," said Jeff Preston, Vice President for Business Affairs. The successful launch of these initiatives have made CCGA a leader across the State in helping to reduce the cost of going to college.
The College continues to make a name for itself both on a regional and national level, garnering its first-ever ranking as one of the Best Regional Public Colleges in the South according to the U.S. News and World Report (USNWR). CCGA ranked seventh among public state colleges in the South in the publication's 2017 Best Colleges ranking. What's more, of all the Top 10 ranked public state colleges in the U.S. News and World Report ranking, CCGA is the fifth most affordable in tuition and fees in the country. "While rankings are important, it is the affirmation of peers and national organizations that is most rewarding. We are implementing best practice initiatives that are having a positive impact," said Dr. Tracy Pellett, Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The College's increasing online courses have also been recognized. OnlineColleges.com ranked CCGA fifth out of more than 50 four-year colleges in the State of Georgia for its online degrees. "Though this is an area of growth for us the past few years, this designation affirms our course offerings are accessible to all of our students and throughout the region," said Pellett.
Academically, CCGA nursing students continue to set records. Our nursing majors have achieved a 100% passing rate in four consecutive test cycles in the very rigorous national accreditation examination. Very few programs nationally can match this accomplishment. Complementing our nurses are our teacher education graduates who have a 100-percent placement rate.
The College has also made great strides in being recognized as a military-friendly campus. For the second consecutive year, CCGA has been named to the Military Times' "Best for Vets" College ranking. This year, the College moved up 11 spots to be listed 51st out of 500 colleges and universities nationally. Of special note, when considering its size, CCGA is very proud to be the fourth rated "Best for Vets" college in the country.
The College's athletic program continues to be a point of pride as well. CCGA has earned national recognition in its intercollegiate sports programs, winning two national championships in golf, three conference championships, multiple Coach of the Year nominations, and numerous student All-American honors. Student athletes are also excelling in the classroom, as demonstrated by a cumulative grade point average of 3.0.
"When we reflect on the great things we are accomplishing at the College, it is truly awe-inspiring," said President Aloia. "All of these things have been accomplished as a result of the extraordinary efforts of a dedicated team of faculty, staff, and foundation members working to help our students be successful. I really can't think of a better word to describe it than 'awesome.'"
As President Aloia considers the future of the College, accessible, affordable, and awesome will continue to drive the direction of the institution. "It is an exciting time at the College," Aloia said. "Every day we are doing things that are helping our students be successful and, in turn, helping our community prosper. What a great time to be a Mariner."
College of Coastal Georgia