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New UNH, Great Bay CC partnership offers more opportunities between colleges without breaking the bank

Union Leader Correspondent

August 05. 2014 7:38PM
From left, Gates MacPherson, 18, of Newfields, is excited to take advantage of the new dual admission program this fall as she watches Mark W. Huddleston, president of University of New Hampshire, and Wildolfo Arvelo, president of Great Bay Community College, sign an agreement to further link the two schools in Portsmouth Tuesday afternoon. (John Quinn/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH — As incoming freshmen prepare to begin college this fall, many students and their parents must overcome the doubts about the value of pursing higher education.

Through a new partnership between Great Bay Community College and the University of New Hampshire, incoming freshmen can now enroll in a dual admission program, which will allow participants who earn an associate degree — while maintaining a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 — to seamlessly transfer into UNH’s College of Liberal Arts as juniors.

Gates MacPherson, 18, of Newfields, who graduated from Exeter High in June and became the first enrollee in the new program, is excited about beginning classes at Great Bay in the fall and could start at UNH after two years.

While she remains a little nervous about starting at a new school, MacPherson said she’s relieved to be able to try out college by completing the basic liberal arts classes while being able to pay for her own education.

“I think it’s really important to get the word out about Great Bay,” MacPherson said.

After she earns her associate’s degree in liberal arts, MacPherson said she is considering studying communications, political science or marketing for her bachelor’s degree.

“I’d love to go to UNH,” MacPherson said, adding many of her friends are planning to attend UNH and it is still close to home.

MacPherson said she is also considering attending Emerson College in Beverly, Mass., but still has time to compare the cost for tuition and housing at both schools.

“I think I have more choice about college,” MacPherson said.

Meanwhile, Rob MacPherson — Gates’ dad — said he is very proud of how his daughter is taking such a practical route to college.

“She can pay for the whole thing with cash and be free from debt,” Rob MacPherson said, adding he’s impressed by the option, especially since he graduated from UNH.

“It’s a totally different world and that’s a good thing,” MacPherson said.

He said the program will not only relieve some of the pressure and financial burden for students, but also remove the stigma of attending a community college. He added his son, Robbie — who is preparing to start his senior year at Exeter High School — is considering the same option.

Rob MacPherson said it’s extremely practical in the light of the cost of many colleges and the fact that a college degree no longer guarantees a good job. He added he sees many graduates earning much less than the debt they face.

Mark W. Huddleston, University of New Hampshire president, said this step is an opportunity for both institutions.

“We really do share a common mission,” Huddleston said.

Wildolfo Arvelo, Great Bay Community College president, feels the dual acceptance program will benefit students at both schools, but perhaps even the entire state.

“The hope is this will expand out to all of the community college system,” Arvelo said.

“It’s about creating opportunities for our students,” Arvelo said.The program was created through a joint effort between educators and staff at both colleges, according to Great Bay Community College’s Bruce Baker, who has a Ph.D. in higher education administration.“The pathway is pretty straight forward,” Baker said, adding advisors will help students ensure the credits they earn at Great Bay will be transferred to UNH.

“This is quite intelligently designed so that what you take here will be accepted over there,” Baker said, adding this allows students to receive an associate’s degree at Great Bay before pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UNH.

For more information about the new program, visit

Education Durham Exeter Newfields Portsmouth

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