The Dalton State Student

Who is a typical student at Dalton State? I don’t have a simple answer but will share what I have observed about our students.

They are employees: Most of our students work at least part-time while attending Dalton State. It is not uncommon for our students to work multiple part-time jobs, and many hold full-time jobs while enrolled in classes. In fact, 81% of our graduates from this past year indicated they worked while enrolled at Dalton State.

They have family responsibilities: Many of our students have other family members they help support. Some students are married with children; some are single parents, and some take on responsibilities to help provide additional support for their households, such as caring for younger siblings or contributing financially. Many of our students tell us they chose Dalton State because we are close to their homes and they can either commute daily or visit their families often on the weekends.

They are first-generation college students: More than half of our students tell us they are among the first in their families to attend or complete college. This means they don’t always understand how to navigate college, so we strive to provide the support needed, especially as they transition into college. Many college students struggle during their first year of college, but our first-generation students have fewer people outside the college they can rely on for advice. Our first-generation students consistently make good use of the support we offer them at Dalton State and successfully transition into college life.

They need an affordable college: Most of our students require some form of financial assistance to attend one of the most affordable four-year colleges in the nation – Dalton State. Our students often cannot afford to leave home and attend an expensive college or university. They need a high-quality education, but they count on a college to be an excellent return on their investment of time and money. We are proud to say nearly two-thirds of our students graduate with no student loan debt each year.

They have a strong work ethic: Our students work hard to succeed in their classes and become excellent employees after graduation. Rather than taking on student loans, our students generally prefer to put themselves through college by working in our community. We encourage them to find employment or paid internships that help prepare them for their careers after graduation. Many times, these opportunities lead to professional jobs before graduation. Our students do not take their college educations and futures for granted. They understand they must make their own successes and they do succeed.

Most pursue a four-year degree: Our students are preparing for high-demand careers at Dalton State. Although most are enrolled in four-year degree programs, we also offer a selection of two-year degrees and a limited number of certificates. Our academic programs include health professions with degrees in nursing, respiratory therapy and radiologic technology, among others; education with degrees in early childhood education and secondary certifications in multiple areas; business with degrees in accounting, finance & applied economics and marketing; and STEM fields with degrees in mathematics with an actuarial concentration available, chemistry, biology, engineering technology and more. We also offer degree programs in areas such as history, criminal justice, English and communication. Regardless of major, our students graduate prepared for their next steps, either as employees or graduate students.

They are creative and talented: I am in awe of the talent and creativity of our students. They teach me new things routinely and inspire me to keep learning and growing, personally and professionally. They earnestly want to make the world better and believe it is possible. They accept and support each other, even when they come from different backgrounds. Their work is often astounding but they present themselves with humility. Our graduates are highly successful in their career fields and employers often tell us how glad they are to hire our students.

They have strong ties to northwest Georgia: Typically, about 85% of our students are from northwest Georgia and want to remain here after graduation. Their family roots are here. Other students come from outside our area and fall in love with the welcoming community and beautiful landscape. Of the graduates surveyed this past year, 70% said they were employed when they graduated. Of those graduates with jobs, 82 % of those students were employed in our region and 91% were working in Georgia.

In my time in Dalton, I have learned to expect to find our current students and our alumni everywhere I go. They work in a variety of places, including retail stores, hospital and doctor’s office settings, our local schools, restaurants and other service-oriented businesses. Many are entrepreneurs who operate their own businesses and I even encounter our students and alumni on non-profit boards and in other community leadership roles. I am proud to see the extraordinary impact Dalton State’s typical students have on our community.