Atlanta first came into its own in the mid 1800s as the final stop on the Western & Atlantic Railroad. A century later it was a key location for Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights pioneers. Today the city and surrounding metropolitan area, which are home to 4.5 million people, are still known for transportation services and for promoting opportunities for African Americans and other minorities.
Atlanta also has a diverse cultural and entertainment base. The city's latest jewel is the Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the world. Four professional sports teams and dozens of semi-pro and college groups keep fans cheering. Underground Atlanta is a six-block area in historic downtown Atlanta that boasts some of the city's most popular shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Other attractions include Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stone Mountain Park, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and Centennial Olympic Park, where the 1996 Olympics were held.
Today, it is the fastest growing area of the United States behind the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Also in 2008, Atlanta became the eighth largest media market in the United States, with more than 2,387,520 households in its metropolitan area.
Going to School in Atlanta
With approximately 45 colleges and universities, the area also provides a wide variety of educational opportunities. From small, specialized training centers focusing on the arts, culinary education and technology fields, to vocational and community colleges that provide career-based learning, to large, nationally recognized state university facilities and graduate schools, Atlanta offers an amazing array of program areas and degree options.
The wide variety of schools in Atlanta allows students to choose the type of educational environment that is best for them. Factors that figure into choosing a school include cost, location, size of school, degrees available, campus layout and housing, and other services available.
For example, Georgia State University is a public four-year school with a large campus and over 23,000 students. It offers on-campus housing, extensive services, and the most comprehensive selection of degree choices in the state. Emory University, a private four-year school, also has a larger student body with over 11,000 students.
On the other end of the spectrum are the smaller private universities such as Clark Atlanta University, a four-year, not-for-profit school with just over 5,000 students. Clark is one of several colleges in the Atlanta area that was originally founded to serve African American students, and the school still maintains that focus today.
Students can also choose to attend a two-year school. Atlanta Technical College is a public two-year school with nearly 3,000 students. Bauder College is a small private, for profit, two-year school with just under 600 students. Atlanta's two-year schools offer AA degrees and certificates in a variety of program areas.
And for students who want to attend a specialty or professional school, Atlanta has man, including the Atlanta College Of Art and Georgia Institute of Technology. Professional schools can be an ideal choice for students who are certain about their career path and want to focus on one main area of study.
There are many more colleges and universities in the Atlanta metropolitan area and in the surrounding suburbs. Some, such as Oglethorpe University and Morris Brown College, were established over 150 years ago and are important historical institutions with longstanding traditions. Others are ultra-modern training facilities, created to address the need for a workforce with hands-on experience in key industries such as technology and healthcare. Additional schools in the Atlanta area include:
Private Colleges & Universities
- Agnus Scott
- American Intercontinental University
- Mercer University
- Morehouse College
- Spelman College
- Argosy University
Public Colleges & Universities
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
- New Horizons Computer Learning Center
Students at Atlanta's schools can pursue nearly every degree or program imaginable.
In addition to staple programs such as Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Technology, Nursing, Theology, Social Work, Engineering, and Psychology, Atlanta's colleges and universities offer training in unique areas like Africana Women's Studies, Computational Media, Human-Computer Interaction, Airline Management, Disaster Management, and Heritage Preservation.
Another unique feature of Atlanta's educational system is an organization known as ARCHE, which stands for Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education. ARCHE was created to help focus on expanding educational opportunities, promoting academic excellence, and fostering cultural diversity for students, faculty and staff involved in the Consortium. Over 20 of Atlanta's higher educational institutions are represented by the organization.
One important function of ARCHE is to provide students with access to numerous colleges and universities through a shared registration program, which allows students enrolled in a Consortium school to take classes at other Atlanta colleges.
According to ARCHE, "This program makes the Atlanta region a powerful destination of choice for college students -- providing a mix of choices for a home institution while offering the opportunity to expand their horizons in other fields of study at a neighboring college or university."