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University System of Georgia Has “Brightest and Bigger” First-Time Freshmen Class

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Atlanta — December 13, 1999

Average SAT scores for the University System of Georgia’s Fall 1999 first-time freshman class have reached the national average of 1,016 for the first time ever in the System’s history. The achievement marks another major milestone in the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia’s quest to raise admissions standards for the state’s public colleges and universities. In setting its 2001 Admissions Policy Direction in the summer of 1996, the board set as a goal to meet – and ultimately surpass – the national SAT benchmark. It has done so two years ahead of schedule.

The Fall 1999 score of 1,016 for entering first-time freshmen continues a three-year increase that began in Fall 1997, the initial year of the phased-in admissions policy. It also represents a 28-point increase from Fall 1996 to Fall 1999.

The rise in SAT scores – coupled with an impressive 6.9 percent increase in the size of the University System’s freshmen class - earns the current cohort of USG entering freshmen the label of “brightest and bigger.” First-time freshman enrollment grew from 30,093 students in Fall 1998 to 32,180 students in Fall 1999. This year’s first-time freshman cohort also represents the largest group of “home-grown” Georgia students, with in-state enrollment increasing by 7.1 percent, from 27,506 in Fall 1998 to 29,459 in Fall 1999. Georgia residents comprise 89 percent of the total system enrollment.

“This data, documenting our highest-ever SAT scores and a burgeoning freshmen class, demonstrate the success of two very powerful policies – the Board of Regents’ 1996 decision to raise the bar with our admissions requirements and the significant impact of the HOPE scholarship program that keeps the best and brightest in Georgia,” Chancellor Portch stated. “Many Georgia high-school students have responded to our call for a higher level of preparation by taking the right courses and studying hard.”

Portch noted that the SAT achievement is an even more significant accomplishment because the average score encompasses the entire range of students, from two-year colleges through research universities. “We are optimistic about the fact that more high-school students, teachers and parents are receiving the message regarding meeting higher standards and are acting accordingly,” Portch stated. “I am very encouraged, but the message still has to be spread wider and faster. I also am proud of how our institutions have responded to the challenge. However, there’s still much to be done.”

Clayton College & State University recorded the largest single-year jump of any of the System’s 34 public colleges and universities, an increase of 45 points from 943 in Fall 1998 to 988 in Fall 1999. Rounding out the top five for the largest gains in SAT scores between Fall 1998 and Fall 1999 are: Georgia College & State University, up 35 points; Atlanta Metropolitan College, up 25 points; Savannah State University, up 24 points; and Georgia Southwestern State University, up 19 points).

Two institutions recorded an average SAT score above 1,000 for the first time: Georgia College & State University at 1,027, and Valdosta State University at 1,001.

A total of eight University System institutions now have average SAT scores above 1,000 for first-time freshmen. These include:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) - 1,303;
  • The University of Georgia - 1,190;
  • Southern Polytechnic State University - 1,067;
  • North Georgia College & State University - 1,061;
  • Georgia State University - 1,050;
  • Georgia College & State University - 1,027;
  • Kennesaw State University - 1,025; and
  • Valdosta State University - 1,001.

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