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Colleges survey Forsyth Co. residents for insight on higher education
Colleges are looking to expand into the county
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College survey

Forsyth County residents can take the survey online. Those taking part can enter to win tickets from the Gainesville Theater Alliance or copies of North Georgia alumnus Jack Anthony’s photography book “Waterfalls of North Georgia.”

Is there a college campus in Forsyth County’s future?

North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College are joining in a survey of Forsyth County residents to determine if and how they would like to see higher education expanded in their community.

In the coming days, postcards will be sent to some 45,000 Forsyth County residents asking for participation in an online survey. The survey aims to gauge what types of degree programs residents might want on the undergraduate, graduate and certification levels, and when prospective students would be interested in attending.

A similar survey last fall was posed to 2,049 high school juniors in Forsyth. Of the 78.9 percent of the students who completed the survey, 56 percent of those expressed some interest in attending a university in the county.

A 2001 survey of Forsyth County residents found most people were interested in degree programs or certification in business, education and health.

The future plan is for three institutions — North Georgia, Lanier Technical College and Gainesville State College — to jointly offer complete degree and certification programs.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said he was thrilled when North Georgia began offering a master’s in business administration program in Cumming in 2008, and he has been working hard to bring a college campus to the city.

“The university system of schooling has been dear to our hearts, myself and the board, and we have been extremely involved in trying to get higher education, and in particular North Georgia, in the area,” said Gravitt, whose late wife, Caroline, and two children all are North Georgia alums.

North Georgia offers courses in the Mike Cottrell School of Business master’s in business administration program at Cumming City Hall. North Georgia also offers nursing and continuing education programs in Forsyth County.

Bringing higher education to Forsyth County also was a top goal identified by some 1,200 residents during the Envision 2030 process, according to James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce.

“In my view, for the long term, this is the most important thing that we can be doing,” McCoy said.

A tract of land off Pilgrim Mill Road owned by the city of Cumming is being considered as a possible site for classroom facilities, McCoy said.

“The intent of part of that land was for the university, at minimum, to have an initial toehold in terms of having a greater presence in the community,” he said.