Acworth-based North Metro Technical College merged last July with Appalachian Technical College and Chattahoochee Technical College under the Chattahoochee Tech name, creating the largest technical college in the state. While the merger may have served as a transition to those involved with the schools, the college is eyeing another major transition down the road -- a move from the quarter system to the semester schedule. The change was one of the topics discussed at the college's media luncheon Thursday.
In fall 2011, Chattahoochee Tech and the state's 25 other technical colleges will begin their first academic year under the new schedule. The quarters will be replaced by 15-week semesters in the fall and spring, with the summer semester spanning 10 weeks.
Trina Boteler, Chattahoochee's vice president of Academic Affairs, said that while the change officially takes effect next year, the college has already accomplished its conversion of academic programs. It was a "major undertaking," she added, as some classes will be different than those currently offered in the quarter system.
"The good news is a lot of courses are one-to-one. Your composition class in English is the same. The bad news is some of them aren't one-to-one," Boteler said, explaining that other courses under the semester system will be created from the combination of as many as three courses under the quarter system. "That's going to be a challenge for us, to advise our students to transition from the quarter to the semester. We're currently starting that.
"We're almost going to do this on a program-by-program basis. In other words, different programs are going to have different advisement plans," she added. "Some of them are going to be easy -- they're all one-to-one ... so you'd keep taking what you're taking. On those courses like in automotive that are three-to-one, we're going to have to make very sure that students don't get started on the quarter system and get stuck and have to go back and retake something. So it's going to be a very intensive advisement program over this next year."
Boteler said the college likely will not roll out any brand new academic programs in the next year while officials work on advising students ahead of the conversion.
The conversion will not affect students' state or federal financial aid, including Georgia's HOPE grant and scholarship programs. Annual tuition under the new semester system will be roughly equivalent to the annual cost under the quarter system; however, tuition will be paid three times a year instead of four. Class sizes are not expected to increase on the semester system, nor will a student's grade point average be affected.
Officials say the change to the semester schedule will offer students benefits such as additional instructional time, more in-depth coverage of course content, ease of transfer to other institutions and calendar alignment that better supports dual and joint enrollment opportunities for high school students.
Those involved with the college will see another change prior to the move to the semester schedule -- the addition of an eighth campus. Lex Rainey, associate provost of the college's Appalachian and Woodstock campuses, said construction work is "moving rapidly" on the Canton Campus, which is slated to be opened early next year.
The 60,000-plus-square-foot building will feature nine classrooms, a tiered lecture hall, medical labs, an Allied Health area, computer labs, student center and more.
Rainey said the campus will offer a few classes when it opens, with more set to be added in the fall.
More on the past year and the future of Chattahoochee Technical College will appear in Progress, a special section in Sunday's edition of The Daily Tribune News.