Richard and Connie McFatter of Cairo were reluctant participants on Saturday, March 24.
Their son, Brandon Gabenski, is in the top 5 percent of the senior class at Cairo High School and he had scored a 1900 on the SAT, so the McFatters were thinking their son could go to any college.
On March 24, the McFatters were among approximately 125 parents and students who talked with administrators and faculty members, toured the campus and received information on admissions and financial aid during the college’s high school visitation day. When the McFatters finished their visit, they were excited to begin their son’s higher education at Bainbridge College, and then later transfer to a university that offers pharmaceutical sciences.
“It’s a lot better and nicer than I thought it was,” Richard McFatter said. Among some of the attributes and amenities he cited are smaller classes, better opportunities to participate in some of the college’s programs such as its study abroad offerings, and less expensive tuition even though the two-year degree offers the same courses found at larger universities.
“I was somewhat concerned about the quality of his education considering his level,” Mr. McFatter said. “But after seeing this place and hearing some of the presentations, he’s going to a high quality institution.”
Bainbridge College President Richard Carvajal echoed that sentiment when he told the group, “We hope that you will think about Bainbridge College in a different way. We wish to be the preeminent choice of higher education for the students in Southwest Georgia. Not a choice, but the preeminent choice.”
Students who transfer from Bainbridge College with an associate’s degree have great opportunities at universities and perform stronger academically, and they can transfer to any college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree.
“About 70 percent of our students come here with the intent of ultimately getting a baccalaureate degree, but we have a bunch of programs also for students who are looking for a career in vocational training,” Dr. Carvajal said. “So whatever your students are looking for, we think this can be a place where they can get their start and ultimately make those dreams happen.”
Shayna Stanford, a senior at Central High School in Thomasville, said she wanted to visit BC to see if this is where she wanted to pursue her nursing degree. Lavarious Strong, a BC nursing student from Thomasville, told Stanford and other visitors that BC’s nursing program is very competitive and difficult.
Megan Akridge from Cairo visited BC, and said it helped in solidifying her college choice. “This has been my first choice for a long time.”
Christopher Peterson from Jakin plans to major in nursing at BC before he pursues a career in anesthesiology.
“I like Bainbridge College and I decided to come here. I can get my degree program started here,” Peterson said. To enhance his program of study, Peterson said the BC travel abroad program outlined by Dr. David Nelson interested him. As a nursing student, Peterson has an opportunity to study abroad in Belize in 2013.
Tylor Hughes, a senior at Bainbridge High School, said he wants to become a dentist, and he and his mother, Tammy Hughes, concluded he can get a quality education while saving money on room and board. Hughes was also intrigued by the study abroad possibilities and the opportunities to get involved in student activities that are available at the college.
Carvajal said the college has been making changes to expand upon its tradition of excellence in education. For example, he said there are numerous changes to the campus itself that includes doubling the square footage of the library, and eventually the creation of an athletic program and construction of a new academic building and campus housing.
Also, a needs assessment concluded that Bainbridge College should serve its community by adding a bachelor’s degree program
in the near future.
“What we are doing here we believe absolutely changes lives. And by the way, we have the lowest cost of any institution in the university system. But it isn’t about a cheap education. It’s about an excellent education close to home,” Dr. Carvajal said.