How well do you actually understand your student loan debt?

Posted by Granite State College on Jul 29, 2015 5:27:15 PM
Understanding student loan debtAnother term, another gentle reminder from the friendly student accounts office to make your tuition payment or payment arrangements.

For most of us, this will involve taking out a loan or two.

Before you push through this paperwork, stop for a moment. Think. How well do you actually understand the implications of what you’re doing?

Do you know how much you borrowed this term? Do you know how much you’ve borrowed throughout your college education? Most importantly: are you sure that you need to borrow that amount—should you borrow less?

Let’s explore a few important (but not often talked about) student loan facts, and also highlight some equally important implications.

Fact #1: Did you know that part-time students can borrow the same maximum amounts as full-time students, according to federal rules.

At first glance, you may think “isn’t this wonderful! Full- and part-time students are treated equally.”

There’s more to it than that.

This federal rule creates an opportunity for part-time students to borrow—this is good. But it also creates the opportunity for you to accumulate twice as much debt. This is extremely risky for part-time students. If you’re in this situation seriously consider these two options:

  1. Borrow only what you need. It’s nice to have a cushion to cover living expenses while you’re in college, but remember that there’s still a “cost.” That “cost” is the increased risk of taking on more student loan debt than you need to.

    Rule of thumb: If you’re enrolled at half-time status (4 credits per term, undergrad), try to accept no more than half the maximum loan amount that the government offers you. If you can manage this financially, it’s a way to borrow smart.

  2. Consider going full-time. This seems 100% counter-intuitive to saving money, but follow us for a moment... Ideally, you want to finish college as quickly and affordably as possible.

    If you widen your course load and finish your degree program a few semesters ahead of schedule, you won’t need to incur the debt that would’ve covered the expenses for those extra semesters.

    When you're working towards your degree, these extra semesters don't seem like that big of a deal, but in the end, they do add up.

Fact #2: There are Federal rules that outline how much you can borrow
The federal government sets a limit on what undergraduates can borrow in federal loans.This is called an aggregate loan limit. This threshold is way easier to hit than you would think.

Let’s illustrate the process.

Student profile: 30 year old man who takes out the maximum in loans each term and takes six years to finish his bachelor’s degree program. As of the summer of 2015, the aggregate loan limit is $57,500.

Year #1        $9,500 (max.)
Year #2        $10, 500 (max.)
Year #3        $12,500 (max)
Year #4        $12,500 (max)
Year #5        $12,500 (max)
Year #6        $12,500 (max)
TOTAL         $57,500 limit

In this scenario, if the student hasn’t started to pay back any of these loans, he won’t be able to borrow any additional funds. Not only will he have a lot of money to pay back, but if "life happens" and he needs to enroll in an additional semester, he won't be able to use federal loans.

Good news!

GSC students don’t actually need to borrow this much. An entire bachelor’s degree costs less than that aggregate loan limit by almost $20,000 (and that’s before factoring grants, scholarships, and other free money).*

Even more good news!
The typical student arrives at GSC with four major advantages: transfer credits, financial aid, Pell grants, and work experience and training (that can equate to college credit).

The combination of transfer credits, financial aid awards (free money, not more loans), Pell grants, and Prior Learning, can drive down the cost to complete a GSC bachelor’s degree for as little as $10,000.

Student loan lesson bottom line
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Having access to federal student loans is so important, but be sure to borrow smart. Taking out the maximum amount can help you comfortably cover all of your expenses, but pursue other avenues before you make this decision. Tap into the "free money" resources, like Pell grants and a GSC financial aid award, first and consider student loans second.

Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.
*Cost breakdown (based on 2015-2016 tuition and fees):
$293 per in-state credit, 120 credits total for bachelor's program
Fees at $75 per term, 24 terms total (four per year, six years total)
Estimated $100 per term for books/other expenses
$100 Degree conferral fee

Tags: Affordability, Financial aid

Paula gets her Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification

Posted by Granite State College on Jul 24, 2015 2:14:00 PM

Paula Schoonmaker reached many milestones before attending Granite State College: receiving a bachelor’s degree, getting married, and raising her children.

As an undergraduate, Paula studied Biology and Chemistry. She always regretted not getting her teaching certification. But like many working adults, she found her calling through hands-on career experience and identifying the things that interested her most about her job. For Paula, it was the teaching aspect of her work in science labs.

20131011_162253I was teaching science labs at a university in Florida. After I got married and had kids, I decided to leave the workforce.

When her children were older, she re-directed her career goals and started to build a resume of part-time jobs in special education eventually making the transition to public schools.

Paula knew she wanted a special education degree and a colleague recommended our Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification program. Paula set up a meeting to discuss the options.

I decided on GSC after speaking with Beth Hoyt-Flewelling. Beth was so accommodating and wonderful. She came to my house, we had a cup of tea, and she handed me the all of the information. I was 48 at the time and wondered who would hire me when I finished. I just looked at her and said, Can I do this? Beth answered, Absolutely! Beth was more than encouraging and explained how to become a teacher in New Hampshire. I looked at her and said I’m in!

Along her journey, Paula has found support that helped her balance her many roles: mother and spouse, teacher, and student.

My family has pulled in, giving me so much support and picking up the slack around the house. They knew that mom’s got to do what mom’s got to do. And at work, every single one of the teachers that I work with has been in my situation and everyone is rooting for me. The faculty at Granite State has been so encouraging and always available. They understand working and going to school. That is what makes Granite State College really attractive to me and a really good fit.

Leveraging her experience and education with unconditional support from her family, colleagues, and Granite State, Paula is close to achieving her life goals becoming a teacher and a getting her Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification.


dream of becoming a teacher!

Tags: Teacher certification, Finding your passion

Staying motivated during the Summer term

Posted by Granite State College on Jul 15, 2015 5:33:00 PM
flipflop_coconutIt’s the middle of July and it seems like everyone around you is having the best vacation ever.

They’re uploading these great photos to Facebook. Meanwhile, you’re uploading your assignments to Moodle.

More than any other time of year, you feel pressure to your work/life balance. Every student taking summer courses will feel this way to some extent, but it hits home for any adult student who is balancing work or family life.

At work, you hear about co-workers’ weekend getaways. At home, even your kids have fun activities through camps or day care. When sitting at your computer or reading your textbook, it’s hard to NOT feel like you’re missing out.

Your feelings are legitimate—we all deserve some time to soak in the summer!

At the same time, dwelling doesn’t help. It’s not productive.

It’s time for some real talk.

Why are you here? For most of you, going back to college at GSC is all about finishing college quickly. You want to get that degree and take your career to the next level.

When you feel like your summer is a bummer, think of your goal. Think of all of the amazing advantages of powering through your degree program, taking summer courses, and getting that degree sooner rather than later.

  1. Staying sharp
    Have you ever been in an upper-level class and needed a refresher on the material that was covered in the pre-req? When you take courses every term, you can avoid this hurdle. You won’t have long gaps in between related course topics and it will be easier to apply what you’ve learned.

  2. Finishing college faster
    If you enroll during every term of the year, you can cut a semester or two (maybe even a year) off of the traditional time frame that it takes to complete your degree program. Yes – you may lose your summers. You’ll also need to develop time management skills to keep up with this pace as a student. At the end of the day, it gets you closer to completion and closer to your career goals.

  3. Saving money – smart management of your student loan debt
    Today, many students rely on student loans. When you take a long time to earn your degree, you need to be mindful of how much you borrow. Part-time students who borrow the maximum amount term-after-term risk accumulating a lot of debt. When you enroll full-time and work to finish your degree quickly, you can have a better handle on student loan debt.

  4. Keeping your momentum
    Your education is a huge undertaking. That can’t be said enough. It’s important to stay motivated and a key part of motivation is seeing progress. If you knock off a course or two each term, your progress is tangible. If you earn your degree at a slower pace, it gets more difficult to fully appreciate your progress.

    Person-to-person and student-to-student this will vary, but for many people it can be hard to get back on the wagon after taking a break. If you identify with this scenario, taking courses each term is a good strategy to keep yourself engaged so you achieve your degree.

We hope that this list is refreshing and gives you the motivation you need to not only get through the summer term, but to look forward to the next semester, too!

Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.

Tags: Adult students, Student success tips

From Community College to GSC: A transfer student's journey...

Posted by Granite State College on Jul 1, 2015 1:27:00 PM

Bruno: A transfer student's journey from Community College to GSC and beyondWhen we announced our partnership with Nashua Community College (NCC), the news quickly caught the attention of Bruno.

After graduating from NCC with my associate degree, a staff member approached me and asked if I would be interested in going to Granite State College. I knew that this was the opportunity for me. Everything just came together.

Good timing is only a small part of this transfer student's story. From the earliest stages, Bruno had a vision for what it was going to take to not only graduate from NCC, but to move onto a bachelor’s degree and ultimately pursue law school. He focused on his coursework and achieved good grades. He also took on various internships, leadership roles, jobs, and volunteer work that would complement his studies and help him grow as a professional.

I had an internship at DCYF as an interpreter, volunteered for charities, served as the online learning assistant, taught a Portuguese language class, and I most recently helped out at a middle school with English language learners. Because I want to become an immigration lawyer, I also work in a law office in Manchester, New Hampshire.

As a busy young professional, Bruno counts on his family and his mentors when he needs support. Bruno has encountered faculty members and staff that have helped him transition from NCC to GSC, and who provided guidance that have helped him refine his goals. Bruno also credits his mother:

My mom, even though she lives in Brazil, helps me a lot and encourages me to do my best.

Education has a major role in Bruno’s journey, but it is also his ability to connect what he’s learning to all the other aspects of his life that has helped him progress towards his goals at such a rapid pace. Both academically and in his community, those around Bruno think of him as a leader and when asked for advice that he’d give to a community college student who wants to follow a similar pathway, Bruno shared:

It’s the best thing you can do. Earning a bachelor’s degree is something that nobody can take away from you. And at GSC, you can tell they care and they’ll help put you on the right path.


Download our white paper  Granite State's $10,000 bachelor's degree

Tags: Transfer Students, Partnerships

A look at the impact of our master degree programs in NH and beyond!

Posted by Granite State College on Jun 26, 2015 10:56:00 AM
They’re protecting the natural resources in your neighborhood.

They’re finding the right leadership prescription for today’s every-changing healthcare industry.

They’re community champions who help connect young people to leadership opportunities.

These are the students in our graduate programs and this is how they are making an impact in New Hampshire and beyond!Last week, the GSC community got to experience this impact when more than a dozen graduate students shared their Project Management and Leadership capstone projects.

In our graduate programs, the capstone course is where our students really shine. When you become a student, it’s the last course you’ll take before graduating and it gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a project that’s relevant to your world. The topics are personal—you can focus your work on a passion, future aspirations, or a project that holds importance in your career. For many, the experience is a catalyst. It’s what helps you connect your journey as a graduate student to the next big thing.

Sitting among the instructors, mentors, family, and friends in the audience, it’s clear that you’re witnessing a “big moment,” so we were compelled to share!

Here’s a summary of the Spring 2015 M.S. Capstone presentations and a interesting facts and take-aways we learned from their projects:

Eric Barrett, M.S. in Project Management
Science DMZ
In a research-rich workplace, being able to share data quickly is essential. Eric Barrett helped create a network that can make direct connections to transfer sizable amounts of data at a rapid pace. Upon project completion, this solution will help researchers save money, time, and resources on their important projects.

Defining success
Thinking of the Triple Constraint of time, budget, and scope, Eric considers the scope of the project to be the most important factor in defining its.

Pamela Doherty, M.S. in Project Management
Master Gardener State Wide Speakers Bureau
Pamela Doherty helps bring horticultural information to New Hampshire’s communities through her work at the UNH Cooperative Extension. More than 3,000 volunteers extend the work by conducting educational sessions throughout the granite state. Pamela’s capstone focused on a volunteer development program that can help volunteers further develop their presentation skills.

Pro tips
Pamela’s advice was to start small with your projects… and pamper your volunteers with good food and fun trainings!

Louise Dube, M.S. in Project Management
Workforce Management: Software Development Project
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center was looking for a solution that could help them analyze their large workforce and assess the organization’s HR needs. As an IT Manager with PMI – PMP certification, Louise Dube was entrusted with this ambitious software development project, which she chronicled in her capstone.

When a project is a huge undertaking, Louise emphasized accuracy when estimating the required resources and timelines. Being able to convey realistic expectations can help you demonstrate the need for more support when discussing the project with the c-level executives.

James Edgell, M.S. in Project Management
Development of a Social Franchising Center
Recently the University of New Hampshire launched a stand-alone Social Franchising Initiative (SFI). It seeks to further the development of social franchising as a viable social franchising business model. In his capstone, James worked with subject matter experts to build the vision and launch the initiative.

“Embrace culture and plan for change.”

Kevin Flynn, M.S. in Project Management
Flynn Fence and Deck Project
Kevin Flynn applies the principles of project management in his career as a financial advisor. Kevin demonstrated the versatility of these skills when he applied them to a personal project, outside of his industry. In his capstone, Kevin designed and executed a three-stage remodeling project for a residential property.

Best practice
Kevin made a point of developing close relationships with the work crew and contractors. This not only fostered a positive work environment, it led to more open discussions when there were challenges to address.

Sara Grady, M.S. in Leadership
#change: A Second Look at Student Involvement Theory
Sara Grady can see the ways that technology and social media influence traditional college students through her position as a residential director at Plymouth State University. She can see how traditional engagement techniques are becoming less relevant to college students. Most importantly, Sara sees the opportunity for #change. Her capstone explored the need to evolve, adapt, and integrate the student engagement theory.

What surprising knowledge did you gain through your capstone experience?
“Be approachable. Be authentic. It will help with all of your leadership goals.”

Paul Hodgdon, M.S. in Project Management
Funding the Cub Scouts
Between fundraising, paying for outings, and other activities, keeping track of which Cub Scout has what money presents a booking challenge. As the Troop leader, Paul Hodgdon used his IT experience and project management skills to find a solution. His capstone sought to create an online app to centralize and streamline the entire troop’s fundraising efforts.

Lesson learned
Timing matters. Paul recommends scheduling your rollout at a time of year that’s convenient for your organization.

JoAnna Jaskolka, M.S. in Leadership
Healthcare Leadership Needs a New Prescription
JoAnna works for an organization that helps health systems maintain and enhance their quality, amidst healthcare’s rapid changes. Her capstone created a call-to-action to her industry. JoAnna advocates for a transformational leadership approach which will help the industry thrive as it evolves.

Most valued course
“Leading teams. Regardless of the scope of the project, you need to keep people involved and excited about what they’re doing.”

Candy King, M.S. in Project Management
Spring Registration Events
Candy wanted to find innovative ways to connect parents and students to the spring registration events at Colby-Sawyer College. She used her capstone as an extensive study on two events: Accepted Student Day and The Summer Picnic Event.

Lesson learned
“Document, document, document. You need the lessons learned to refer back to so you can see continued success year-to-year.”

Andrew Lathrop, M.S. in Project Management
IT Services Relocation
What do you do when technology that services staff throughout North America needs to be moved to a new facility? This was the challenge Andrew faced and his goal was to minimize any and all downtime during this process. Andrew’s helped the company move the server to an offsite location. This solution offered better security and a more efficient environment.

What surprising knowledge did you gain through your capstone experience?
“There’s no right way and no wrong way to approach a project. Be open to the multiple ways you can manage projects. You could find a way to make it better.”

Erika Liljestrand, M.S. in Project Management
Summer Conservation Project
Every summer, the Colorado Mile High Youth Corps is busy maintaining the trails, protecting the natural resources, and making improvements at regional parks. Erika leads groups of young adults through this experience, exposing them to career development and leadership opportunities. She used her capstone to connect project management essentials to these conservation projects.

How will you use the knowledge beyond your graduate program?
“Learning the different tools and project management terms really helped me become better at organizing my projects. Before, I had my own system. Today, I feel like I can jump in on conversations with any project managers.”

Amanda Moore, M.S. in Leadership
Optimal Leadership Models to Successfully Influence Change in a Healthcare Organization
In her work as an HR professional in the healthcare industry, Amanda is interested in finding leadership models that can thrive during rapid change. Amanda recognizes that people process change in different ways and through her capstone, she explored Leadership models that can minimize stress among employees and encourage change readiness throughout the organization.

Offering a perspective
To help illustrate an environment of change, Amanda incorporated a clip about leading change from the movie “Remember the Titans.” 

Robert Robinson, M.S. in Project Management
Cohas Brook Sewer Project – Contract No. 3
City projects that intersect with the environment require an advance level of skills and attention. Robert manages sewer infrastructure projects and when one such project focused on an area near Lake Massabesic and Cohas Brook Watersheds, it was a major undertaking. Robert’s capstone provided insight into how project management principles are used in this setting.

Bringing the audience on-site
Typical of a regular work day, Robert began his presentation by putting on his hard hat and then got into the details of the project.

Larry Scola, M.S. in Project Management
Waste Water Treatment Plant Project
Larry works for an innovative company that has created a unique brand of electro-hydraulic products and technology. With experience in the maritime industry, Larry saw the opportunity to introduce this technology to waste water treatment plants located on maritime college campuses. His capstone covered the creation of a successful partnership and new account with his undergraduate alma mater, Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Even when you switch industries, your experience is always an asset. The success of the project can be attributed to Larry’s roots in the maritime industry.

Justine Stadler, M.S. in Project Management
Developing a Collaborative Project Tool Kit
Justine’s work aims to bring members of the community together with scientists to address coastal wild life. Collaboration is key and in her capstone, Justine created a tool kit of best practices, case studies, interactive tools, and project management templates to help future collaborative teams communicate successfully.

The tool kit that Justine created recommends online tools like Google Docs and Basecamp, but she also suggests weekly phone calls to make sure that everything that’s discussed online is understood.

The capstone projects represent a transformation. Students transform into graduates. They develop skills and grow as leaders and managers.

They take their next step and work to transform their community, their industries, and themselves.

With their masters in project management or masters of leadership complete, our graduates are making a difference with their master degree programs in NH and beyond!


Click here to download M.S. Undecided:  a guide to select the right graduate program

Tags: Graduate studies

Father / Fire Fighter: how taking online classes & credit for career makes the difference

Posted by Granite State College on Jun 19, 2015 4:23:35 PM

Father’s Day is approaching. As we honor the dads in the GSC family, we wanted to highlight a student who balances all the demands of his job, academics, and most importantly, family.

Mike is a third generation fire fighter in the City of Manchester. Mid-way through his career he knew that if he wanted to ascend the ranks, getting his degree was important.

He took some hands-on courses in Fire Science at a New Hampshire Community College, which were superb, but he wanted a more versatile degree. He looked into Granite State College for an individualized program that would be tailored to his goals.
When my advisor learned that I was a fire fighter during our initial meeting, she asked me to elaborate on my formal training. At that point, I had more than 20 years’ experience travelling across the country attending conferences and classes. I’ve even taught some locally. She asked me to compile all this information, which led me on a path to uncovering all my prior learning that I completed over the years.

Realizing that his experience mattered, and could save him a considerable amount of time and money in his pursuit of his degree, Mike began the process of earning credit for his prior learning.

I had so much prior learning that they couldn’t apply it all at the associate level. I took a few courses to meet the requirements for my A.S. degree and applied the rest of the prior learning to a bachelor’s program. In the end, I was just 8 or 9 classes away from my Fire Service Administration and Emergency Management degree.

As a District Fire Chief in the City of Manchester, Mike’s work schedule is packed. Taking online classes was the best fit for Mike’s schedule. He found that his coursework opened up a lot of doors in his current profession.

Believe it or not, one of my favorite classes was actually Spanish. I can apply it to real life scenarios. Manchester is getting more and more diverse. When I’m out on the street in an emergency management situation, being able to communicate in more than one language is helpful.

When he began his initial search, Mike didn’t know about prior learning options. Today he shares that being exposed to this innovative way of earning credit is what he values most about Granite State College.

They took me in and helped me organize a clutter of certificates and accomplishments. From there, the advisors laid out a plan for me on one, concise document and showed me how attainable my degree was. It’s been a great experience. Without prior learning and the convenience of online classes, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Mike credits prior learning for saving himself a considerable amount of time and tuition money. Following this accelerated degree pathway was especially important for the entire Gamache family.

Throughout Mike’s student journey, there were other family members getting their degree at the same time.

My wife has gone to college for nursing. Two of my kids had overlapping college years, so at one point there were three of us enrolled at a college at the same time. Also, my son is a fourth generation fire fighter in Manchester.

Between tuition payments and busy schedules, time and money were valuable for the Gamache family. It helped make it possible for every member of the family to pursue their goals. It also gave Mike a flexible schedule so he could balance his responsibilities to his family, fire department, and education.

Happy Father’s Day, Mike!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who are working hard to achieve their goals and support their families.

Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.

Tags: Adult students, Online classes, Finding balance

Top 5 Moments from Granite State College's 2015 Commencement

Posted by Granite State College on Jun 14, 2015 9:20:00 AM

There were so many memorable moments of this year's Commencement. A few of them stood out for us. Check out our top five #granitegrad moments.

1. The day was perfect with a beautiful venue and gorgeous weather. Check out our graduation day set up!


The #granitegrad stage is ready for the ceremony!

Posted by Granite State College on Sunday, 7 June 2015


2. Our teachers and leadership were on the sidelines applauding the graduates as they made their way to their seats.

And we're off #granitegrad

Posted by Granite State College on Sunday, 7 June 2015


3. Our new president, Mark Rubinstein, personally thanked every vet for their service. The entire stadium broke out into applause and gave a standing ovation for the active military and veteran graduates.

Veterans Honored

4. Alumni were there to support their #granitegrad.

Amy and Adam Martinese

In 2012, Amy and Adam received their associates from Granite State. They once again crossed the stage hand-in-hand to receive their bachelor's.


Elizabeth, Andrew, and Tru

Andrew with his family Elizabeth (M.S. Leadership, 2014) and Tru. Their baby Tru has been to two Commencements!

5. Our final memorable moment is that many of our graduate's journeys are not going to stop at Commencement.


From our #granitegrad speaker

Posted by Granite State College on Sunday, 7 June 2015

 Following her BS in Psychology from Granite State, Melissa Brogna is going after her Masters in Social Work.



Brock Holmes is going for his Master of Science in Leadership at Granite. He is pictured here with his wife, Loretta Holmes, who is a 2014 GSC Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Grad.

Congratulations to all our gradutes! What were some of your most memorable moments? What are your plans after commencement? Leave us a comment.


Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.


Tags: Commencement 2015

Meet the new Granite State College President: Dr. Mark Rubinstein

Posted by Granite State College on Jun 12, 2015 1:47:00 PM

Earlier this year, the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees selected Dr. Mark Rubinstein as our new president.MarkGrad2015Since his first official day on the job, he has immersed himself in all things GSC.

He visited the GSC campuses across New Hampshire as well as the Presidents and other staff at several of New Hampshire’s community colleges. Mark attended a reception to honor the recipients of the alumni merit scholarships. He joined the Graduate Studies reception. He even completed a 5K, albeit walking, alongside GSC staff members in support of the cancer center at a local hospital. Most recently, he has participated, formally, in his first Granite State College commencement (having attended last year’s event in support of a friend who was among the Master’s Degree recipients).

There are more meet and greet opportunities in the future. In the meantime, our blog team sat down with Mark to help introduce him to our GSC community.

Throughout our conversation, a few things were evident.

We compiled these insights into our top five things you should know about our new President:


Top Five things you should know about our new President:

1. Mark’s professional background

I spent the last 17 years at the University of New Hampshire: initially on enrollment and academic support programs, later student affairs, and briefly in advancement with fundraising, alumni, and communications. So I’ve had a pretty broad post-doctoral experience with higher education.

I’ve typically worked more on the student side of things and I guess I continue to look at it from that perspective: how’s the student experiencing the college and what can we do better to facilitate their progress through, and their success with, the college in ways they would define as successful?

2. Mark’s parents inspire his commitment to education

As a kid growing up, my father felt that if you had gone a week without reading a book that you have wasted a week. I didn’t fully appreciate that as a child. He had come here from Germany in ’38 with his parents. They viewed education as critical to finding their way in America. I grew up in a house with books and so, education was sort of just a given. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t everyone’s experience, but in hindsight, I realize the strength of that influence.

3. You (our students, alumni, and friends) are having a tremendous influence on how he views higher education

I had a chance to participate in the alumni merit scholarship program. I read the stories of the students being honored and got to understand a little more about the circumstances that brought them to GSC and the experiences they’ve had. For want of a better word, it’s captivating. Our students are impressive. There’s extraordinary diversity of experience and personal challenges. The way in which the college functions—whether through our online courses, the personal support that people find at our campuses, or the personalized learning assessment that recognizes and values people’s experiential learning—works differently for individual students, but these pieces come together to create the unique bridge that each student needs to be successful.

GSC is so markedly different than anything that I had done before that it really has opened up new possibilities for me to understand how higher education works and how it could work differently, and better.

4. How he approaches leadership

At one point in our discussion of his leadership style, Mark jokingly said: “you’d have to ask other folks.”

Well… we actually took his suggestion! GSC alum Paul Dean, B.S. in Criminal Justice Management ’04 and M.S. in Leadership ’14, worked for Mark at UNH.

Mark was constantly pushing me to move forward and reach my goals of becoming a professor.

Although the 2015 graduation was Mark’s first as GSC’s President, it’s the second ceremony he’s attended overall. Last year, far before his official introduction to Granite State, he attended our Commencement to support Paul.

Kidding aside, Mark spoke about the philosophy of servant leadership when describing his approach. It’s a model that shares responsibility and authority and puts the needs of others first in order to help them develop and perform to their full potential. It was a fitting concept. Throughout our conversation, it was clear that Mark’s focus is on the students and finding ways for the faculty and staff to help them find success.

5. Partnerships are important to him

As Mark settles in further to his role as GSC’s President, we can expect a leader who is our partner.

I feel like I have an obligation to the people with whom I work and to the students that we serve, the alumni whose degrees are valued by the reputation of the institution. It’s an obligation to do good work on behalf of the entire group. This is not something you do singularly. You do it as part of a team, so my goal will be to be a good steward to the college and fulfill my responsibilities to this team. I want to elicit good information from our students on ways we can enhance the quality of their experience and the value of their degrees. I want to work alongside with the faculty and staff to deliver a curriculum that’s relevant and focuses on our students’ needs for the future. At some point years from now, I want to be able to look back and feel like I did good work on behalf of the mission of the college and the people served by the college.


Stay tuned to to follow Mark’s first year as the new Granite State College president!


Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.

Tags: President

GSC grad uses Master's of Science in Leadership degree to inspire...

Posted by Granite State College on Jun 11, 2015 3:36:46 PM
Siddartha - Graduate Studies at GSCSiddartha’s inspiration comes from helping others. For more than ten years, he worked for the New Hampshire National Guard...

My whole career in the military has been about serving people in one way or another.

When thinking about his personal and professional goals, he knew that a master’s degree was a necessary tool.

When choosing a graduate program, I originally considered social work, but couldn’t pay for it with my military benefits, and the programs I was finding just seemed too ‘heavy.’ They touched upon what I wanted to study, but I wanted more of a focus on the areas where I have the most interest. I came back to Granite State, where I earned my bachelor’s degree, and the master's of science in leadership program sounded good.

That first class is what made a difference for me.That’s when I realized that Leadership wasn’t just about making profit for a company. It is about the people.

As a student, Siddartha found great mentors within the graduate faculty.

All of the professors that I had were willing to be a mentor. That’s important to me. In my career, I strive to be a good mentor for others.

Siddartha shared a specific transformative moment in the classroom when an instructor inspired him:

In one course, I remember that we were trying to identify what really motivates us as leaders. Part of the process was realizing that many of us weren’t doing what we really want to do, including myself. It changed my life in a personal way. That was incredible. Thiis was about more than a degree. It showed me that it is possible to realize and accomplish the way of life I want for myself and my family.”

Siddartha hopes to one day found an institution for personal growth where individuals can grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. This is a dream that he shares with his wife Grisel, currently a GSC graduate student studying Project Management. To read Grisel's story, visit

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Tags: Leadership, Graduate studies, Military

Master’s degrees at GSC: the origins of our on campus and online graduate programs

Posted by Granite State College on Jun 4, 2015 4:03:58 PM

SStanleyRegina Rockwood’s employer strongly encouraged her to further her education.

Jason Smith, a director of a leading regional health care facility, wants to help his organization stay competitive and grow.

Mary Young is excited to expand her professional portfolio and she finds it invigorating to be back in the classroom.

It’s the classic Granite State College student story: “I need a degree to get ahead.”

What makes Regina, Jason, and Mary special is that they were each pursuing their master’s degree, a reflection of the evolving needs of the contemporary adult student.

Up until 2011, Granite State was fully focused on undergraduate programs. Today, we offer a selection of professionally-focused graduate degrees and we’re excited to build our programs.

We recently sat down with Dr. Scott Stanley, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and asked him about the evolution of our master’s degree programs and what it means to be among the nation’s top online graduate programs.

Inside the launch of project management

We carefully considered our options and chose to offer our first masters in Project Management because of its ability to develop high-level skills in a wide range of professional fields.

We didn’t want to be duplicative or redundant. Rather, we wanted to be responsive to our state’s workforce and deliver them the skills and credentials they need to strengthen their careers and job prospects. Ultimately, the Master’s degree program is closely aligned with the GSC mission: accessible, useful, innovative, and responsive.

One of our very first Project Management graduates told me that he chose GSC because it had so many facets within his career in health care management that he could apply in his everyday working environment. That’s the exact outcome we want for our graduate students.

The next step: leadership

When GSC was ready to expand and start its second program, Leadership was a natural fit. The program supports an action-learning model that gives students the opportunity to apply concepts and achieve measurable results in a way that connects core professional competencies to actual projects. The goal of the masters of leadership program is to create a transformative education experience that develops a personal brand of leadership, leverages the interdisciplinary backgrounds of the students, and builds versatile leadership abilities.

A new addition: management

The M.S. in Management is our third master’s program. It presents a continued focus on workforce demands and maximizing career possibilities for students.

Research shows that an individual with a bachelor’s degree in a content-specific area has limitations when they try to achieve a management position.

It gives a high-level, global perspective of management essentials and heavily emphasizes a full comprehension of management demands. This empowers students to meet challenges and advance their own careers.

Top ranking from U.S. News and World Report

Since the launch of our graduate programs, they’ve consistently been named to the U.S. News and World Report best online graduate business degrees.

Each day, we see and experience how the average college student is challenged by expensive tuition rates - a predicament that’s always a top concern for working adults. This drives our students to look at affordable online institutions, like Granite State College, and being recognized among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report is a special honor.

The future of graduate studies at GSC

We identify what students are looking for and align their goals with what is going to add the most value to the workforce development goals of New Hampshire. This is where we’ve found our identity as an institution and where we’ll carve out our niche moving forward.

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Tags: Career transitions, Leadership, Graduate studies, Project management