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Dalton State Ranked #1 in the Nation for Student Experience by The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse

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Dalton State was ranked number one in the nation for Student Experience in The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. rankings. The Student Experience ranking is based on three categories – campus facilities, community and social life, and diversity on campus. Each category accounted for one-third of the overall ranking score.

“I was not surprised to hear that our students rate their experience so highly, and I want to thank all of my fellow Roadrunners for sharing their student experiences in the rankings survey,” said Mackenzie Manley, Dalton State student body president. “In my time at Dalton State, the college has maintained a commitment to improve the student experience. Every year, it seems Dalton State students get access to a new resource, a new academic partnership, new events and overall new opportunities.”

Data used to rank institutions were heavily informed by survey data from verified college students and alumni collected by College Pulse between January and May 2023. The college partnered with The Wall Street Journal and College Pulse to share the survey with current Dalton State students and recent graduates.

“A number one national ranking in any category is a reflection of the work, dedication and support of our faculty and staff, community partners, and incredibly generous donors as well as the financial support from the Governor, General Assembly, the Board of Regents, and the Chancellor over the years,” said John Fuchko III, interim president at Dalton State. “But this ranking carries a special significance because it is based almost entirely on how our students and recent graduates view their experiences at Dalton State. It tells us that our work and dedication is having an impact, and we will continue working to provide our students with a transformational college experience on a campus they can call home.”

While the campus facilities category assessed student satisfaction with facilities on campus, the student satisfaction in the community and social life category was based on student satisfaction with areas such as the “sense of community,” support for students and campus safety. Diversity on campus was measured in terms of ethnicity, inclusion of students with lower family incomes, inclusion of students with disabilities, and international diversity as reflected in government data. Additionally, this category included students’ satisfaction with the quality and frequency of opportunities to interact with students from different backgrounds.

In addition to providing a quality education at an affordable price, student experience is at the forefront of Dalton State’s mission, according to Jodi Johnson, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at Dalton State.

“The student experience is an integral part of a student’s overall ability to be successful in college, and we make that a priority from day one,” Johnson said. “From new student orientation through to graduation, we strive to ensure our students are engaged and aware of the resources available to them. From housing and dining to campus recreation to student support services, we take a holistic approach to the student experience, so our students have access to what they need when they need it.”

Following the completion of two planned renovations, all but two buildings/facilities on campus will have been renovated or newly constructed within the last decade, according to David Lesicko, interim vice president for Fiscal Affairs at Dalton State.

“As a state-funded institution we have an allocated budget to work with each year. We have been fortunate to be able to pursue and complete renovations and new constructions thanks to additional funding secured through external support, including capital projects and private donations, totaling $72.9 million,” Lesicko said. “Our number one national ranking illustrates the impact external support has on our campus and our students.”

Manly noted there has been a renovation underway on campus every year since he began attending Dalton State in 2019. These include the renovation of Gignilliat Hall, Sequoya Hall and the Bandy Gymnasium.

“Not only does Dalton State commit to providing a quality student experience, but the institution also continually improves the campus through new renovations and constructions to ensure students are consistently getting what they need,” Manley said. “I believe all these things get accomplished in multiple ways, like intentional feedback and students expressing their wants and needs, but I believe it is ultimately due to the passion and drive that our faculty and staff show up with every day. These individuals are the reason students are able to do what they do and why we have what we have.”

Dalton State serves a diverse student population and is Georgia’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution. According to 2020-2021 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 34% of students identify as Hispanic. In terms of socioeconomic status of Dalton State students, 72% receive grant or scholarship aid with 46% receiving Pell grants, a form of federal aid for lower income households.

“Without a doubt, Dalton State has continued and will continue to strive to improve and maintain these levels of satisfaction for students,” Manley said. “Because of this, I have complete confidence in myself and my peers as we transition to alum, and I know we will make a mark wherever we settle down, the same way Dalton State has made a mark on us.”

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