Georgia Highlands College in Rome beat the system wide average, seeing its numbers increase by 5.6 percent to 5,530 from 5,235.
The numbers were released today in the System’s fall semester enrollment report, which tracks enrollment in the System by individual institution and other factors such as race, gender, age, resident and non-Georgia resident and class (freshmen, etc.) The report offers a detailed view over time of how the student body in System has grown and changed.
“While the growth over the past year is smaller than in some recent years, we continue to see more individuals seeking access to public higher education,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “And we are seeing more minority students looking to the University System for educational opportunity, which reflects the increase in Georgia’s minority populations.”
But the numbers are only part of the story, Huckaby said. “The real challenge we face is to equip these students with the skills and critical values they need to succeed in a very competitive world. And with more of the jobs of the future requiring some form of postsecondary education, we have work to do to increase Georgia’s college-going rate and our college completion rates.”
While up overall, enrollment growth over the past year was not even across the System, the report found. Enrollment increased at 23 institutions and decreased at 12, dropping primarily at the state and two-year colleges.
Three of the institutions recording enrollment growth did so at double digits: Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville topped the charts with a 43.9 percent increase, from 5,380 to 7,742 students.
East Georgia College, Swainsboro, saw a 12.1 percent increase, from 3,063 students in fall 2010 to 3,435 students in fall 2011, and Savannah State University had a 11.6 percent jump, from 4,080 to 4,552 students.
Most of the decreases in enrollment were less than four percent, but there were some exceptions. Waycross College saw enrollment drop 13.1 percent, losing 145 students. Macon State College enrollment dropped 8.5 percent (530 students); two colleges had a 8.4 percent drop, Atlanta Metropolitan College (255 students) and Dalton State College (503 students); and Gordon College, Barnesville, recorded a 6.9 percent decrease (345 students).
While a number of factors contribute to enrollment declines, it appears that policy changes allowing two-year and state colleges to require a minimum SAT/ACT score for admission and not admitting students who must take remedial courses in three areas played a role.
The largest increase in enrollment in terms of percentage growth is among Hispanics, with a 14.2 percent increase from fall 2010 to fall 2011. The 2,069 additional Hispanic students contributed to a change in Hispanic enrollment from 4.7 percent of total enrollment in fall 2010 to 5.2 percent in fall 2011. However the 16,650 Hispanic students enrolled in the USG are still underrepresented in terms of Georgia’s Hispanic population, which is 8.8 percent of the total.
African-American enrollment saw the next greatest percentage increase, of 6.4 percent, or 5,348 students, from fall 2010 to fall 2011. Total African-American enrollment in the USG now stands at 89,454 students, or 28.1 percent of total student enrollment. African-Americans make up 30.5 percent of Georgia’s total population.
Asian enrollment grew by 1.8 percent (2,069 students) from fall 2010 to fall 2011 and now totals 20,595 students, or 6.5 percent of total enrollment, or double Asian’s 3.2 percent of total state population.
The increase of students identifying themselves as white/non-Hispanic was just .5 percent or 888 additional students from fall 2010 to fall 2011. This reflects an overall shift in USG enrollment that is mirroring shifts in the state’s population makeup – whites/non-Hispanics represent a slightly smaller percentage of the total enrollment in fall 2011 than in fall 2010 (54.4 percent and 55.2 percent, respectively).
The report also records a change in enrollment by gender. Georgia and the nation have long recorded increasing enrollment in college by women and a corresponding decline in male college going rates. For fall 2011 in the USG, although female enrollment continues to be substantially higher than male enrollment (182,420 females and 135,607 males), this year the percentage increase in enrollment was greater for males, at 2.4 percent, than females, at 1.9 percent growth.
First-time freshman students total 50,274 in fall 2011, an increase of just 906 students, or .5 percent.
Georgia residents comprise almost 90 percent of total enrollment, or 285,627 students.
Since fall 1998, enrollment in the USG has increased every single year. The overall increase from fall 1998 to fall 2011 is almost 60 percent, or 117,925 students. The largest single percentage increase came in fall 2002, with a 7.1 percent jump over the previous fall, and the smallest was a one percent increase from fall 1999 to fall 2000.