It was a toss-up when Amy Davidson was narrowing her graduate school options.
Davidson was weighing the long haul south to Georgia State University in Atlanta or a drive north to North Georgia College & State University's main campus.
Then she learned that the NGCSU Mike Cottrell School of Business would be offering a master's of business administration program minutes from her Cumming home.
"I'm really excited," the 27-year-old said. "It's wonderful because it's so close. The commute to and from the school makes it easier to get to classes on time. And even though the classes are from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., you can still get home just after class ends."
The Mike Cottrell School of Business Graduate Center will operate from the third floor of Cumming City Hall. The city and college are holding a grand opening program Sunday, when the public is invited to tour the facility and learn more about the MBA offering.
"It's important to let the public know that such a quality facility and educational opportunity is available to them," said John Douglas, director of MBA marketing and development. "It is our desire to continue to build our relationships within the total Cumming community."
While the school is open to all students at the graduate level, it is designed for business professionals eager to go back to school to enhance their business and leadership skills.
John-David Rusk has been in the business industry since graduating from NGCSU in 1989. Though he enjoys his career as an IT director for Forsyth County, Rusk, a self-proclaimed lifelong student, said he wants to become a better leader within his position.
"I've always tried to learn as much as I could about the business side, and this is an opportunity for me to really broaden my knowledge of the ways in which a business functions, which is going to help me immensely in my job," he said.
When he made the call to return to school, Rusk was looking at the cost, schedule and qualities of the program. The main business school in Dahlonega met all criteria, but it was "the icing on the cake" when he learned of the Cumming program.
"That just made it an opportunity I couldn't pass up," he said.
Of the 25 students, 17 have a Cumming mailing address, Douglas said.
Among them is Colette Cochran, who at age 22 is one of the youngest students. She was a little nervous to be in a classroom with industry professionals, but after orientation it "actually feels great."
"It gives me a chance to learn from those that have been in the work force and it gives me the ability to learn from them about what it's going to be like for me in a few years."
A recent NGCSU graduate, Cochran said she had such a good experience in undergrad she's "not ready to get out of school."
"I've enjoyed it too much," she said. "I believe this master's program will give me a broader range of wherever I can go, and I'm hoping it will bring me to some kind of conclusion."
Rusk said the students hit it off well.
"This group has such a diverse mixture that it's going to strengthen the program by providing so many different viewpoints from so many different age groups, work sectors, experiences, that we can all learn from each other."