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UNG president: Region needs more students
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Hall County is one of Georgia’s fastest-growing counties for high school graduates, according to census data between 2007 and 2011, but the higher education numbers aren’t as high.

College enrollment in Northeast Georgia is not where it should be, University of North Georgia President Bonita Jacobs said Tuesday at a meeting of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s South Hall Business Coalition.

Jacobs, speaking at the Continuing Education Auditorium on the Gainesville campus, said the university, which recently formed from the consolidation of North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College, wants to meet that need.

Part of doing that involves focusing on providing scholarships.

“There are merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships,” Jacobs said. “Need-based is very important.”

Jacobs said information on financial aid and even understanding what a credit hour means to a curriculum need to be coordinated between colleges and local school superintendents.

She said a pilot program may be in the works soon to educate students and their parents about financial aid in order to attract them to the university.

Many students might consider going to college, “but parents don’t talk about it at the dinner table,” said Jacobs, “We need to bring parents into it.”

Jacobs will be inaugurated April 26 and said any money made at that event will go to scholarships.Also, Jacobs said university career centers are important to put students in touch with job resources, including the chamber.

The ability to easily transfer to UNG is also critical to its growth, she said.

Another focus for the new university is preserving each campus’ culture. The university has campuses in Gainesville, Dahlonega, Watkinsville and Cumming.

“Every campus is different — not a blending,” Jacobs said. “We need to honor those traditions.”

College students are also looking for an on-campus social atmosphere, which may be an indicator for a student’s success, Jacobs said.

“Students need engagement, and studies have shown the students need to have access to faculty outside the classroom,” she said.

Although campus housing is not under consideration now, the idea of residential living might be a pathway to consider.