Florida Gateway College (FGC) is a two-year public college in Lake City, Florida. FGC was founded as Columbia Forestry School in 1947, when Lake City was the “Forestry Capital of the World”. In 1950 the school was put under the management of the University of Florida and renamed University of Florida Forest Ranger School, then Lake City Junior College. The school changed its name to Florida Gateway College in 2008. Many people in the Lake City area still refer to it as “the forestry school”.
The 25-building campus is situated on 132 acres a few miles outside of Lake City, next to Lake City Municipal Airport. It is built from a repurposed World War II Navy air station. Most of the acreage is covered with azaleas, crepe myrtle trees, and native pinelands. It has been named the most beautiful college campus in Florida by Florida Leader Magazine.
FGS serves five Florida counties: Gilchrist, Baker, Union, Dixie, and Columbia. The area served by FGC is 2,683 square miles—over twice the size of the state of Rhode Island. In addition to the main campus, there are three small satellite campuses in Maccleny, Bell, and Cross City. FGC also offers classes at off-campus locations, including the Employ Florida Banner Center for Global Logistics, the Dixie County Center, and the Gilchrist County Center. Including part-time and distance education enrollees, over 7,000 students attend FGS at any given time.
FGS offers a huge range of degrees, programs, and certificates to meet the needs of rural Floridians and their economy. Major divisions at the school include Allied Health, Continuing Education, Golf and Landscape Operations, High School Programs, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Occupational Programs, and the Teaching Academy. The Forest Technology program, which had long been the lynchpin of the FGS course catalog, was discontinued in 2010.
Transferring to Four Year Institutions
A large percentage of the student body at FGC chooses to go on to a four-year institution after finishing their time at community college. For those who know before enrolling that they will wish to do so, there are 44 majors in the transfer track.
FGC has a partnership agreement with Saint Leo University (SLU) in Lake City, so that students pursuing a four-year degree may be guaranteed admission through a strong academic performance at FGC. SLU offers bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services Administration, Middle Grades Education, Psychology, Business Administration Management, Healthcare Administration, Business Administration Accounting, Computer Information Systems, and Business Administration Logistics.
The Teaching Academy
The Education Academy within FGC offers distance learning courses and flexible scheduling for students who are employed during the day. The program offers an Associate of Arts in Education, a certificate in Early Childhood Education, and the Educator Preparation Institute (EPI). The Academy facilitates transfers to Florida public universities for students who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.
The cosmetology program, one of the most popular at FGC, is designed to be completed in one year over three semesters. The program operates both day and night programs to accommodate students who work during the day.
There are four separate nursing programs at FGS: the 11 month Patient Care Assistant track; the 11 month Licensed Practical Nurse track; the two year Registered Nurse track; and a Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse program which takes 14 months under normal conditions but which can be completed in 12 months with a fast track option designed to be completed around a regular work schedule and which includes evening and weekend work.
Academic Opportunities for High School Students
Early college credit for high school students is offered through Career Pathways, a federal workforce development strategy. FGC works with Baker High School, Columbia High School, Gilchrist High School, Dixie High School, and Union High School to give students a head start on their career paths and transition them seamlessly to college after their graduation.
Alternative Learning Opportunities
For students who aren’t available to attend classes in person on a frequent basis, FGC does offer some distance learning classes and hybrid classes that only meet in person once a week. Some classes are also offered through telecourse. These classes are televised on the college’s own channel. Students without cable television access may request class sessions on videocassette instead.
Academic Assistance at FGC
The Collegewide Learning Lab at FGC is a multipurpose learning center open to students and the wider community. Learning Lab staff provide support to non-traditional students, those who need assistance with technology, or those with remedial needs. Tutoring is available in reading, writing, mathematics, several foreign languages, study skills, critical thinking, test taking skills, and computer and internet basics. There are over 60 computers in the Learning Lab for student use as well as appropriate software, printers, and other learning accessories. Computer technicians are available to assist with the use of Microsoft Office Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access, Blackboard, and My Math Lab.
Most Popular Fields of Study
One of the best-known—and most unusual—programs at FGS is the Associate of Science degree in Golf Course Operations and Landscape Technology. Graduates of the golf course program are in high demand to maintain courses throughout the United States. There are several distinct degrees and certificates within the Golf Course division.
The most extensive Golf Course Operations program is a three-year Associate in Science (AS) degree, including two summer internships (which are normally paid). Students in this program learn to be the turfgrass manager at a golf course. Applicants must have at least 500 hours of golf course maintenance work experience before entering the program. The first year of study is dedicated to mechanics and shop management, while the second and third years focus on agronomy, horticulture, and turf management. Golf course management is a growing field, with more available jobs than there are qualified applicants. If desired, students may transfer to a guaranteed spot at Saint Leo University to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Administration.
The Landscape Technology program is a two-year AS degree program. Enrolled students learn landscape installation, golf course maintenance, and some principles of design. Most students go on from this program to take positions as landscape managers. Some students start their own landscape business after graduating from the program.
The Turf Equipment Technology program is a one-year Applied Technology diploma program. Students in this program learn to manage a shop at a golf course and maintain all the equipment used to care for turf.
The Pest Control Operations program is a one-year Applied Technology diploma program. Students in this program learn about lawn and ornamental pest control. They study plant materials, botany, chemistry, pest control, and business management. Students may enter this program as a start to the landscape program.
The Horticulture program is a one-year certificate for beginners in the field. Graduates generally work for plant nurseries or landscape companies.
Most of the programs at FGC have open enrollment. The exceptions are golf course operations, nursing, and allied health programs.
In addition to the several federal and state financial aid options that are open to any student in Florida, FGC offers several of their own scholarships. Special scholarships are open to students in music, theater, and student government. The Florida Gateway College Foundation offers several privately funded scholarships, especial for students in the Allied Health Programs and Golf and Landscape programs.
Some of the most popular scholarship programs at FGC for students from the state of Florida include Florida Bright Futures, Florida Academic Scholars, Florida Medallion Scholars, Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars, and Children/Spouse of Deceased/Disabled Veterans scholarships.
Student clubs and organizations include an art club, an anime organization, a college choir, cosmetology support programs, a drama club, the Florida Turf Grass & Golf Course Superintendents Association, two nursing associations, Phi Theta Kappa, and the student veteran’s club.
The Lev Performing Arts Center (PAC) seats 500 and hosts travelling theatre performances, operas, and ballets. The Visual Arts Gallery exhibits a rotating display of local and regional artists, as well as twice-annual student art shows.
Getting To and From Campus
As the main campus is six miles away from downtown Lake City and there is no public transportation, students must own or have access to a car in order to attend. There is ample parking on campus. Students must have a parking permit; however, these are supplied free of charge to registered students.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Although the college had several strong competitive intercollegiate athletic teams for several decades, the athletics program was discontinued early in the 2000s. Popular intramural sports include basketball, flag football, soccer, ping pong, and dodgeball. FSC is known for their annual Spades Tournament.
Well-known alumni include Houston Astros outfielder Reggie Abercrombie and Kansas City Royals pitcher Heath Phillips.
Catalog. Florida Gateway College. Web. 3 May 2011.
Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
Golf Course Operations. Florida Gateway College. Web. 3 May 2011.
Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
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.