University System of Georgia

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USG Enrollment, Retention & SAT Scores at All-Time High

Atlanta — January 11, 2003

One year after completing the phase-in of higher admissions standards, the University System of Georgia is able to affirm that not only are a record number of students enrolling at its 34 institutions, more are staying in the University System after their freshman year, more are attending college full time, and the System’s students are academically stronger.

The Fall 2002 Semester Enrollment Report being released today shows that the System’s overall headcount enrollment is now 233,098 - an increase of 7.1 percent over the Fall 2001 total of 217,546. Produced by the Office of Strategic Research and Analysis, the report reflects an even more impressive jump in the University System’s full-time-equivalent enrollment (FTE).* The University System’s FTE increased by 13,950 students, or 8.2 percent, over Fall 2001. System-wide, 66 percent of USG students now enroll full time.

Some of the System’s two-year colleges posted the biggest enrollment gains: Floyd College in Rome is up 19.3 percent, Bainbridge College in Bainbridge is up 18 percent, Atlanta’s Georgia Perimeter College’s enrollment grew by 14.3 percent and Gainesville College in Gainesville experienced 12.8 percent growth.

Also posting impressive enrollment gains were the University System’s two state colleges. In Dalton, Dalton State’s student body grew by 13.4 percent, while Macon State in Macon added 11.3 percent more students in Fall 2002. Among the System’s regional universities, the standouts were Columbus State in Columbus, which posted a 13.2 percent increase; Kennesaw State in Kennesaw, which grew by 12.2 percent; Clayton College & State University in Morrow, where enrollment was up 11.5; and Savannah State in Savannah, which boosted its student body by 11.4 percent.

The number of African-American students enrolled in the University System also soared up 8.8 percent from 48,677 in Fall 2001 to 52,941 in Fall 2002.

“These increases reflect both new students coming into the System and record retention rates within the System,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “Improving our ability to retain students was one of the goals cited in the Board of Regents’ Strategic Plan. We retained more first-time freshmen (from the fall of 2001 to the fall of 2002) than has ever before been recorded in the System’s history.”

The retention rate for University System freshmen who remained at the same institution from their freshmen year to their sophomore year was 73.9 percent in Fall 2002, compared to 72.7 percent in Fall 2001, while 80.4 percent of the freshmen who entered a USG institution in Fall 2001 were retained somewhere in the System in Fall 2002, compared to 79 percent in Fall 2001.

Meanwhile, a separate report, also produced by the Office of Strategic Research and Analysis, shows that the average SAT scores of the University System’s Fall 2002 first-time freshmen -one of the strongest measures of the academic strength of incoming students -also is at a record high. The average composite score (combined verbal and math scores) of incoming USG freshmen is now 1,030, which is up from 1,026 in the fall of 2001 and from 1,021 in the fall of 2000.

Three of the points gained this year were in the math portion of the test. System-wide, the average SAT scores for USG students are now 516 in math and 514 in verbal.

“The increase in SAT math scores by students entering the University System reflects very posi-tively on the Board of Regents’ decision to strengthen admissions requirements by adding an additional college-prep math course,” Meredith said. “Our students continue to perform above the national average and the increase in scores is proof that raising the bar for college admission is the right thing to do.”

Five institutions achieved particularly notable gains in their average composite SAT scores. Georgia Southern in Statesboro - which has made huge strides in SAT performance since 1999 when its score was 987 - catapulted another 24 points to 1,052 this year. Middle Georgia College in Cochran improved its score by 23 points, from 873 to 896. Albany State University in Albany jumped 18 points from 908 in Fall 2001 to 926 in Fall 2002 (last fall, the institution reported a staggering 78-point leap from a score of 830 in 2000). Bainbridge College in Bainbridge jumped 17 points from 850 to 867, and Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley bounced up 15 points from 878 to 893.

Twelve USG institutions now have average SAT scores exceeding 1,000: Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah (1,010), Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville (1,062), Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta (1,325), Georgia Southern University in Statesboro (1,052), Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus (1,005), Georgia State University in Atlanta (1,066), Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw (1,032), North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega (1,069), Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta (1,094), State University of West Georgia in Carrollton (1,008), the University of Georgia in Athens (1,211) and Valdosta State University in Valdosta (1,020).

The increasing quality of University System students is complemented by the national rankings held by several USG institutions. Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia rank as No. 9 and No. 18, respectively, among public national universities in the United States in the U.S. News & World Report publication “America’s Best Colleges 2003.” In 2001, Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville joined the ranks of top public liberal arts universities when it was welcomed into the prestigious, 18-member Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.

* Full-time equivalent enrollment is computed by calculating all hours enrolled by undergraduates divided by 15, plus all hours enrolled by graduate and professional students divided by 12.

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