By Johnny Jackson
Strayer University is a 113-year-old adult education institution based in Washington, D.C. The university has more than 23,000 students and 35 campuses in eight states along the eastern seaboard. On Sept. 26, the school will open its third metro-Atlanta campus in Morrow.
The school is only visible by its namesake, large burgundy letters that read "Strayer University." Seen from interstate 75, near exit 233, the letters pear through a gathering of pine trees that frame the university. It is how many people first learned about the nontraditional school.
The average student at Strayer University is 34 years old and works full time. And the more than half that attend classes at Strayer have families.
"We have big expectations in our academic quality," said Travey Lacey, Ph. D. and Strayer University Atlanta Area Dean. "We have a unique group we target, working adults. We serve people who have been out of school, some years removed from an academic environment. Their stories are all linked together."
Carla Mitchell is 33 years old, and she will commute from Hampton. She sat in front of a computer screen at the school Monday applying for financial assistance. She is hoping to improve her current unemployment status soon by taking classes to earn an Associates in Arts degree in business economics. She inevitably wants to work in book-keeping.
"I like economy and finance," she said. "I want to be successful, have a nice home and live comfortably."
Mitchell chose a day-time schedule of two classes per quarter so that she could supplement her needs with a part-time job. She is one of 100 applicants to the university, excited about the opportunity to advance herself in education.
"The response has been very positive," said Shay Bracey, Strayer Student Services Manager. Bracey also helped Mitchell and others get started on financing their education.
"We are a community-based institution," said Chris Toe, Ph. D. and President of Strayer University in Morrow. "We create economic opportunities directly and indirectly through our students. We offer high quality post-secondary education that enables working adults to advance in their careers; that is our focus."
Toe said that students at Strayer will have the advantage of taking classes during 11-week quarters. He said the quarter system is more flexible than semester systems, and students are able to learn as much.
"Only 16 percent of adults over the age of 25 in Clayton County have a college education," Toe said, citing a report from the U. S. Census Bureau.
He said the school believed there is a market for adult education in business and information technologies in the Morrow area, one reason the school decided to open a campus here.
According to Toe, about half the student body at Strayer receives financial assistance through federal aid programs or in reimbursements from employers. Most classes are taught by full-time faculty. And the university is entering into articulation agreements with the state's community colleges, agreements which make it easier for students who earn credits at community colleges to transfer to Strayer's degree programs.
Officials anticipate the 12,000-square-foot Morrow campus will fill to capacity by 2011, with possibly 1,000 enrolled students and 65 members of faculty and staff. Until then, the school expects to gradually increase enrollment. The school expects 150 students this fall quarter, and it already has 100 applicants to choose from.
The school, a subsidiary of Strayer Education, Inc., is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education and authorized to operate in Georgia by the Georgia Nonpublic Post-secondary Education Commission. It offers about 22 Associates, Bachelors and Masters degrees in fields primarily pertaining to business and information technology.
Strayer University is located at 3000 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 100 in Morrow. For more, call (678) 422-4100.