Colleges and Universities

Atlanta’s Unique Higher Ed Options

Atlanta is renowned time and time again for its college, university and tech school offerings. The city’s schools consistently rank at the top of U.S. News and World Report rankings, such as National Universities, Top Public Schools, Best Value Colleges, Best Education Schools and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. With nearly 60 higher education choices, there’s something for everyone and, better yet, excellent career opportunities upon graduation, because Atlanta has become known as the place to be for college grads and young professionals.

But what makes Atlanta’s schools such prime candidates for educating the next generation are what they can offer as students prepare to set out and start professional lives. Here’s a look at what a few of Atlanta’s best schools have to offer matriculating students.

Unique Offerings Draw Students to Atlanta
Life University is a hidden gem within historic Marietta, offering a myriad of original and innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees, along with the world’s largest Doctor of Chiropractic program. “Life esteems itself as the not-so-little university that is changing the world,” says Shelly Batcher, director of marketing at Life University. “Life’s premier Doctor of Chiropractic program has more than 1,700 students and consistently ranks in the top 10 in scores for the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Graduates regularly go on to become some of the most respected and influential practitioners and researchers in the field.”

Chiropractic careers consistently rank high on best jobs lists, typically feature comfortable work environments, are among the least stressful occupations and have great job security. This year, ranked chiropractic first in a list of professions with best job security. A 2014 survey by Chiropractic Economics reported that the average salary for a Doctor of Chiropractic among respondents was $99,555, while their average total compensation was $127,397.

“Our undergraduate degree programs, ranging from the basic sciences and business programs to specialized, vitalistic health and wellness degrees, offer students a wide selection of career-launching educational opportunities,” Batcher says. “Life’s exercise science students (more than 150) receive the highest-quality education and technical instruction in the disciplines of anatomy, biology, biochemistry, physiology and kinesiology. They also learn to work with the body as an innately intelligent organism and to care for athletes and community members through the Life Sport Science Institute; our public clinic, Center for Health and Optimum Performance; and in a variety of internship/externship or practicum settings.”

In their nutrition department, with bachelor’s degrees in nutrition and dietetics and a master’s in clinical nutrition, Life is quickly gaining recognition as one of the top nutrition degree programs in the country. Recently, in their “Best of 2015: Top Nutrition Degree Programs” article, Public Health Online ranked Life’s nutrition degree program in the top 50 in the United States at No. 40 on their list. “Our 9-month dietetic internship program is one of the most sought-after programs in the U.S. It admits 16 students annually, and in 2014, 14 of the 16 graduating interns were employed in nutrition-related fields within 12 months of graduation,” says Batcher.

Another unique and noteworthy option is Life’s psychology degree programs, which focus on positive psychology by emphasizing inborn human capacities for love, courage, forgiveness, wisdom and interpersonal connection. Life’s Master of Positive Psychology is one of only three such programs in the U.S. and the only one in the Southeast. Inaugurated in 2014, this master’s degree has three distinctive tracks — coaching psychology, secular ethics and contemplative science, and a general track.

Record-breaking, National Achievements
Kennesaw State University’s College of Continuing and Professional Education recently achieved 11 national marketing awards from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. In categories ranging from 3D virtual tours, direct-mailed pieces, print publications and email marketing. But for Barbara S. Calhoun, dean of the college, the school’s top offerings are what really make it shine.

For one, their Culinary Apprenticeship program is an 8-month course that offers students the training to become professional chefs or caterers. Students get real-world experience working in prestigious restaurants and catering companies around the city. “The majority of our culinary graduates land full-time positions in the field and many of them are hired by their apprenticeship sites,” Calhoun says. “One of our recent graduates opened her own restaurant (Spot 364) and another started his own food truck business (C’est Bon Tout 2 Eat).” Other unique offerings from KSU include the Information Systems Security Professional certificate course, Web Design certificate program, Project Management certificate program and Medical Assisting certificate course.

Students who graduate with these degrees naturally fall into the city’s rhythm. “Atlanta is an international city of diversity, which mirrors our program offerings and student demographic. We serve students from all walks of life from teenagers to those in their 90s,” Calhoun says. “Most of our students are working adults who desire to either change careers, start a new career or advance in their current career. Our program offerings have proven to help empower individuals which ultimately benefits the entire community.”

And once students have their degrees in hand, they don’t have far to go to start their professional lives. “Atlanta is a tremendous city of opportunity,” Calhoun says. “We see people from all over the entire Southeast desiring to move here. Not only is it an affordable place to live, more and more companies are moving here which creates enormous job growth. From a Kennesaw State standpoint, more than 80 percent of our graduates have remained in the Atlanta area.”