What’s the deal with Concord’s five college campuses, anyway?

The Concord campus of New England College gets the award for most promotional posters on the windows. JON BODELL / Insider staff
The Concord campus of New England College gets the award for most promotional posters on the windows. JON BODELL / Insider staff
With its brick facade and noble, white pillars, UNH School of Law definitely looks like a serious higher learning institution. JON BODELL / Insider staff
With its brick facade and noble, white pillars, UNH School of Law definitely looks like a serious higher learning institution. JON BODELL / Insider staff
Did you know that building next to Burger King and across from KFC is actually a college? Yep, that's Granite State College, conveniently located next to the highway, a gas station and two of the city's finest dining establishments. JON BODELL / Insider staff
Did you know that building next to Burger King and across from KFC is actually a college? Yep, that's Granite State College, conveniently located next to the highway, a gas station and two of the city's finest dining establishments. JON BODELL / Insider staff
The campus of NHTI is always bustling with activity, especially in front of the Student Center, which is, of course, the center for the students. Courtesy of Alan Blake / NHTI
The campus of NHTI is always bustling with activity, especially in front of the Student Center, which is, of course, the center for the students. Courtesy of Alan Blake / NHTI

We were sitting around the office one day recently trying to think of issue ideas when a random thought popped in to someone’s head – “Hey, doesn’t Concord have a bunch of college campuses? We should do an issue about it.”

And now here we are, in the middle of the Higher Education Issue.

Concord, though never mistaken for a true “college town” like Boston, is actually home to five college or university campuses or satellite campuses, and we thought that fact alone was pretty noteworthy. But as they say, noteworthy facts do not an issue make.

That’s why we decided to do a little more than just remind you that these places exist and actually find out some real information about each of them. We’re not a college prep publication or an educational brochure, but we thought we’d use some ink to give you the basic rundown of each of Concord’s five offerings for higher education.

So here they are, in no particular order:

NHTI

NHTI – Concord’s Community College might be the closest thing the city has to a “real” college campus. There’s a gym, a dining hall, dorm buildings, student parking lots, signs with rules posted everywhere and a general college atmosphere about the place.

Long known as New Hampshire Technical Institute, the school changed names in 2007 to reflect that there’s a lot more to NHTI than just tech courses.

“We evolved from just being a technical program to having a broad spectrum of academics,” said Alan Blake, director of communications at NHTI. “We still have tech programs like mechanical, electrical, computer, civic, environmental and so forth.”

NHTI offers all kinds of two-year associate degree programs in a wide range of studies, which is all you need to get a job in many fields. The main idea for all of the fields of study is to prepare students for the real world immediately.

“Really, what you have is a variety of two-year programs that prepare you to go directly into the workforce,” Blake said. “So all those engineering and health programs, you get a two-year degree and you’re ready to go to work.”

You can also take just a class or two at NHTI if you’re planning on transferring. Many students take this route, and the vast majority of students are commuters – there are only enough dorm beds for 375 students, so the resident students account for the rarest demographic at the school.

For more information, go to nhti.edu or call 271-6484.

UNH School of Law

Quick – how many law schools are there in New Hampshire?

If you said any number other than one, you were dead wrong. That’s right, the Granite State’s lone law school, UNH School of Law, is right here in Concord.

“So in many ways we are New Hampshire’s law school,” said Megan Carpenter, dean of UNH Law.

The school has a strong reputation and a track record of success in the real world. About 90 percent of students end up practicing law through a residency or a clinical program before graduation, Carpenter said, adding, “and our bar passage rate – we’re over 94 percent this past year.”

The law school has a strong focus on practice. While anyone can sit in a classroom and read until the cows come home, there’s no replacement for real experience, which you can get plenty of at UNH Law. And you’ll need that, too.

“One of the most important things about the law school philosophy is not just to teach people to think like lawyers, but to be lawyers,” Carpenter said. “We really embed practice, practical legal education into the academic discipline.”

The school also sees itself as a valuable resource for the state as a whole. During a time when young people are fleeing the state, driving up the already high average age here, UNH Law is helping reverse the trend.

“About 29 percent of our students have come from New Hampshire, but when they graduate about 50 percent choose to make homes and careers here,” Carpenter said. That means that the school isn’t just helping the state retain young people, but smart, talented, motivated young people.

For more information, go to law.unh.edu or call 228-1541.

NEC Concord

NEC Concord, though tiny by college standards, has some prime real estate on North Main Street, with constant foot traffic right out front. That makes it an ideal location for social and cultural activity, which is exactly what goes on there on a regular basis. That and education, of course.

The downtown campus is a satellite campus of the much larger New England College in Henniker. The Concord facility is for graduate studies, and there are two classrooms upstairs. Classes are mostly held in the evening for adult learners.

“We’re focusing our master’s in public policy there, being just down the street from the state capital,” said Tom Horgan, interim director of public information at NEC. “We’ve created an advisory board of Concord folks who are helping us with that program and attracting students to that program.”

Basically, there are some fields of study at NEC that require students to attend classes in Henniker, and some that require going to Concord. It isn’t like you can just take whatever classes wherever you want based on what’s convenient for you. For instance, if you’re in the master’s in public policy program, you’re going to Concord.

The school also does quite a bit with the cultural arts, regularly hosting events for the general public, but we’ll get into that more on the next couple pages.

For more on NEC Concord, go to nec.edu/locations/nec-concord or call 715-2306.

Granite State College

Granite State College hides in plain sight just outside of the downtown core – it sits next to Burger King and across from KFC on Hall Street. It exists primarily for what’s considered non-traditional students, or students who are anything other than kids who just graduated high school and are going straight to college. In other words, it’s mostly for adults looking to go back and get their degrees – bachelor’s, master’s or associate – or a certain certification.

“We were established in 1972 by the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees with a unique mission to provide access to the resources of the University System for people who couldn’t necessarily access those opportunities at the three residential institutions for reasons related to distance, cost or other personal circumstances,” said Granite State College President Mark Rubinstein. “Over time, that mission evolved to become a more singular focus on serving working adults and providing them with access to quality higher education in a manner that is affordable, flexible and responsive to their needs.”

It may not have all the bells and whistles of a school like UNH or Dartmouth, but it’s cheaper and more convenient for people with full-time jobs, kids and adult stuff like that.

For more information, go to granite.edu or call 855-472-4255.

PSU College of Graduate Studies

Plymouth State University is in – wait for it – Plymouth, but since 2007 the school has had a satellite site known as the College of Graduate Studies at the 2 Pillsbury Street building. The location has classroom and faculty office space, and is also used for various PSU meetings and events.

We weren’t able to reach anyone from PSU about the Concord location by press time, so for more info, go to plymouth.edu/graduate or call 535-2636.

Author: Jon Bodell

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