Technically, Southern Union State Community College first appeared on the collegiate landscape in 1993, but its campus in East Central, Alabama – only an hour and a half from Atlanta, Georgia – dates back to the early twentieth century.
In 1923, Bethlehem College opened its doors to 51 college students and, over the next four decades, would undergo several name changes until, in 1964, it became Southern Union State Junior College. In 1993, Southern Union State Junior College merged with Opelika State Technical College to form Southern Union State Community College, which serves students in both Alabama and neighboring Georgia from its Wadley, Opelika, and Valley campuses.
Today, this school sets itself apart from its counterparts by offering residential living on-campus at the Wadley campus, a rarity among community colleges. But, the option to live on campus isn’t the only thing that makes the college standout among its peers.
This school’s belief is that learning is a lifelong process, and it employs a team of faculty who are instructors rather than researchers. Combine that with a low student ratio, and students enjoy one-on-one interaction and a supportive educational experience.
With accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, this school awards the associate of science and the associate of applied science degrees. The community college itself is divided into seven departments: business, child development, fine arts, language arts, social science, science, and math.
Students can opt for majors in dozens of disciplines, including accounting, economics, biology, hotel and restaurant management, public relations, human development, and social science. All programs are designed to provide students with the foundation they need to transfer to a four year institution. Academic advisers work closely with students to ensure they take classes that are transferable to the college or university of their choice.
In addition, students may opt to earn an occupational certificate in disciplines such as child development, computer science, business management, and office management.
Students with busy schedules might want to schedule a distance learning course. This community college now offers online and video conference courses. Video conference courses are the same as a traditional course. Instructors teach on one campus, and students at another campus gather in a classroom for the class. The experience is 100 percent interactive, allowing students a complete educational experience.
Online classes, on the other hand, allow students to take classes from home or wherever they happen to be at any given moment they log in to their virtual classroom. Unlike video conference courses, students have the flexibility to log in and complete their class work at their own convenience.
This school recognizes standout students annually in a number of ways. Academically exceptional students may be nominated for Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges. In addition, two students are named to the All-Alabama Academic Team and three students are named Most Outstanding Students annually.
Most Popular Fields of Study
This school runs on the belief that everyone should have equal access to higher education and, as such, operates an open door admissions policy. All applicants are required to fill out an application, which can be done online or by printing a paper application from the college’s official website.
In addition to a completed application and submission of official transcripts, applicants must provide the admissions office with current photo identification. Acceptable forms of identification are a driver’s license, a United States passport, an identification card, or a United States permanent resident card.
Applicants who want to earn an associate degree must also have either a high school diploma or a GED.
Students, who complete the application process, can begin study during the fall, the spring, or the summer semester. All first-time students taking more than three credits must take the COMPASS placement test to determine in which classes they should be placed. Students who submit ACT or SAT scores to the college during the application process may be exempt from taking the placement tests.
Southern Union State Community College offers students an affordable education. Students who need financial assistance, however, may use grants, scholarships, or loans to help cover their tuition and other education-related expenses.
In addition to federal grants such as the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, students may also be eligible for state grants. . To be considered for the grants, students must fill out the FAFSA form annually.
Scholarships are also abundant at this school. The Presidential Academic Scholarship, for example, awards full tuition while the Special Circumstances Scholarship is awarded on an as-needed basis to students facing financially difficult circumstances. A full list of scholarships and eligibility criteria can be found on the school’s official website.
Finally, students may participate in the Federal Work Study Program, or they or their parents might take out a student loan. The Stafford Loan and the Parent PLUS Loan are two of the most popular loan programs for college students.
Financial aid applications should be submitted by the beginning of April for priority consideration. Students needing assistance can contact the financial aid office on campus.
Student Financial Aid Details
The highlight of the fall semester at Southern Union State Community College is, like with most schools, homecoming week. In addition to much-anticipated sporting events, the campus hosts a plethora of activities. Students dress to the nines for Dress up Day, showcase their talents at the annual homecoming week talent show, dance the night away at the homecoming dance, and participate in mock beauty pageants.
Mock beauty pageants give way to the real thing with the annual Miss Southern Union State Community College Pageant. All students are encouraged to compete in the competition, which is a gateway to the Miss Alabama Pageant.
Student activities and organizations are also a part of the thriving campus life. Singers are invited to join one of the college’s musical groups. The Southern Union Singers, the campus choir, and the Southern Union Sound, which consists of singers and dancers, both perform on campus and in the community. The Southern Union Sound has even earned the honor of playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City several times since the early 1990s.
Journalism students, and other students interested in learning how the media works, are invited to work on the student newspaper, The Southerner. Students who want to join The Southerner staff should contact the college’s publicity coordinator, who also serves as the newspaper’s adviser.
The campus also hosts a slew of clubs and organizations. The Music Club, which caters to musicians as well as singers, allows students to socialize and to plan and perform in concerts. The Southern Union Ambassadors, who must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA, host visitors to the college campus and participate in such campus-wide events as graduation and homecoming. Nursing students might join the National Student Nurses Association.
Academically exceptional students, who maintain a high grade point average, may be invited to join the College Bowl Team. The College Bowl Team participates in academic competitions against other community colleges throughout the state of Alabama.
The school also hosts community events such as the Relay for Life. The race, which raises money for cancer, kicked off several years ago at this school’s track.
Student Enrollment Demographics
The Southern Union State Community College Bisons play in Division I of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and currently field a men’s baseball team, a women’s softball team, a men’s and a women’s basketball team, a women’s cross country team, and a women’s volleyball team. The Bisons men’s basketball team brought home state championships in 1997, 1998, 1999, and in 2001 while the baseball team garnered state championship status in 1991, 1993, and in 1995.
The men’s baseball team, looking ahead to next season, has already begun recruiting high school standouts from across the country. Students interested in playing Bisons sports can fill out a Prospect Information form and turn it into the Athletic Department.
The Bisons men’s basketball team takes center stage during the annual homecoming week. In preparation for the team hitting the hardwood, the college hosts a pep rally and, during half-time of the game itself, the school crowns its latest homecoming queen.
The cheerleading squad, which holds tryouts during the spring semester, cheers on the Bisons. Students interested in joining the cheerleading squad must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
In addition to intercollegiate sports, also offered is a thriving intramurals program in the fall and in the spring semesters. Intramural sports – swimming, basketball, badminton, ping pong, weight lifting, volleyball, and cards – take place in Wadley Campus’s multipurpose building. Bulletin boards throughout campus feature announcements about upcoming intramural activities, and students on campus can contact the Director of Student Life to learn more or to petition to start a new sport.