Athens State University (ASU) was founded in 1822, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Alabama’s state educational system. It is a public institution located in the heart of Tennessee Valley, in the urban, northern city of Athens. The city is part of Limestone County, which is the fifth fastest growing county in Alabama according to the Alabama Economic Development Partnership.
The institution started as an all-girls school under the name Athens Female Academy. Later it was taken over by the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church and it was not until 1931 that the school became co-educational. After several name changes, it was finally given its current name in 1998. Now it offers coursework at the junior and senior level, allowing transfer students to receive a baccalaureate degree in a two-year program.
ASU is the only two-year upper division institution in Alabama. The school is governed under the authority of the Alabama State Board of Education and is a baccalaureate degree granting institution of the Alabama Community College System.
There are over 30 different degrees offered within the three different colleges; the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Among them the colleges offer four types of degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, the Bachelor of Science, the Bachelor of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Science in Education. The university offers 224 credit-granting distance education courses and of these, 28 are undergraduate online credit courses. There are also six different Bachelor’s Degrees which can be completed online.
Accreditation is conferred by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredits the College of Education and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs accredits the College of Business. The Alabama State Department of Education has approved ASU for the training of elementary, secondary, and post secondary school teachers. The Department of Education is also a member of the National Association of State Directors of Teachers Education Certification.
A Cooperative Education Program is available for qualified students. Students receiving cooperative education placement are usually in the fields of Math, Computer Science, Business Management, Management of Technology, and Accounting. In order to be eligible to participate in this program students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. Transfer students who have a GPA less than 3.0 in a cooperative program will be accepted but they must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better once entering the Coop Program. This program allows students to receive work experience along with their traditional college education.
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Prospective students must have completed at least 60-64 semester hours of college credit and have a minimum GPA of 2.0 or have earned a two-year associate’s degree. The application can be submitted online along with a small nonrefundable application fee. Students must also send all of their official transcripts from all college and universities they have previously attended. All students must show proper identification before admission either in person or through a notarized copy by U.S. mail. The following forms of identification will be accepted: an unexpired Alabama Driver’s License, an unexpired U.S. passport, a Resident Alien Card or two secondary forms of documentation, one of which must be a photo identification card.
In addition, International students must take the TOEFL and score a minimum of 500 on the written part or a minimum of 173 on the computer oriented part. They must also provide proof of health insurance while in the United States, complete the Affidavit of Support form, provide a letter of planned major, and provide a letter from a banking institution on financial status.
Students receiving financial aid must maintain a GPA of 2.0 and students must also successfully complete 67% of all coursework attempted. If students do not successfully complete over 33% of all coursework, financial aid will be suspended. Students must complete 128 semester hours to earn their first undergraduate degree and therefore financial aid will cover no more than 192 semester hours of credit. If a student wishes to obtain an additional degree, all coursework must be completed in 130% of the time frame for the degree and the degree must be a BA or BSED, not an additional major or minor. Also students who wish to obtain a state required teaching certification or certificate program must complete the required coursework in 130% of the time frame for the certification.
There are more than 160 scholarships from which students can choose to apply. For students interested in getting involved in the campus newspaper, The Athenian, there are also scholarships available for many of the editorial positions.
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Many students who attend this university transfer from the Alabama Community College System, but many also come from other accredited institutions of higher education. Out-of-state students are charged higher tuition and fees in comparison to in-state students.
Students have a broad range of clubs and associations to choose from. Many on-campus events give students other outlets to get involved on the campus. The school attracts people from all over North Alabama with these numerous events. The annual event which attracts the most people is the Fiddler’s Convention. This convention allows people to enjoy music and fun for an entire weekend.
The campus library houses over 100,000 books. It also carries approximately 220 serial subscriptions in conventional paper format, and electronic databases provide full-text for articles in thousands of periodical titles. Students can even download ebooks using the school’s Netlibrary. There are many books available in the Netlibrary that can be downloaded onto the student’s desktop or mobile device and will remain available for up to 3 days.
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Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.