Top 5 areas outside SC for C of C student recruitment:

Atlanta

Washington, D.C.

New York/New Jersey

Charlotte

Philadelphia

Source: C of C

Education in Paradise.

That’s what Vince Graham saw recently on a billboard advertising the College of Charleston in the upscale neighborhood of Buckhead in Atlanta.

“I was curious,” Graham said. The billboard was “a University of Phoenix kind of thing, but it was in swanky Buckhead.” He thought it was “an interesting way to market the college,” and he wondered about the cost.

College of Charleston spokesman Mike Robertson said the school has only two out-of-state billboards, and both are in Atlanta. The other one is on Interstate 85, near Shallowford Road. The Atlanta area is important to the college both for recruiting students and raising money, he said.

Graham, a Charleston-area resident, took a photograph of the college’s Buckhead billboard, which landed on an email group mostly composed of residents who live near the downtown school. Concerns of group members who responded to it included the cost, how students affect the surrounding neighborhoods and some of the college’s other, possibly greater, needs.

Some state legislators and residents have been critical of the college in recent years because of the high percentage of out-of-state students it enrolls. In the fall of 2012, the most recent information available from the state’s Commission on Higher Education, nearly half of the school’s freshman class came from other states.

Officials at The Citadel, Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University said they currently do not have any out-of-state billboards aimed at recruiting students.

Robertson said the Buckhead billboard costs the college $7,000 per month. It went up in September and will be there through February. The one on I-85 costs $4,000 per month. It went up in March 2012 and will be there through March 2014. The money is coming from the college’s operating budget, which is funded largely by tuition and state appropriations.

Atlanta is one of the top five areas outside of South Carolina from which the college draws students, Robertson said. Last year, the college received applications from 407 students in the Atlanta area.

It’s also an area where the college’s fundraising efforts have been successful, he said. “We see significant gifts from parents in the Atlanta area.”

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491.