Some 300 new Brenau University students from across the country and around the world started moving onto campus Wednesday to get settled in before they start cracking the books on Monday.
The new students represent part of an overall 6 percent increase in tuition at the private liberal arts college, according to Scott Briell, senior vice president for enrollment and student services.
"I think it speaks well to the different programs, the different delivery platforms that we have," he said, noting the college has had an increase in the number of graduate students enrolled and the number of adult students.
"Our adult education programs are really kicking it. People are entering degree programs that will help them change careers, or they are seeking graduate degrees in their current field to make them more employable."
Briell projects that the women’s college enrollment will be 875 students, down only about 18 students from last year.
That number includes about 170 new first-year students and 120 more transferring in from other colleges or universities. School officials are happy with that figure, as enrollment at women’s colleges across the nation has been trending down, he said.
"I think it has been a good way to sustain our women’s college, by having those evening and weekend programs," Briell said. "It is clear the nontraditional student will become the traditional student in the next few years."
This time last year the university had about 2,292 students signed up and had registered more than 2,500 by the time it posted its official numbers in October. This year, 2,432 already are registered. The university also opens its new campus in Fairburn next week.
Some 1,400 adult students will be taking classes on campus and 375 more taking classes strictly online, he said.
Significantly, the number of students taking classes online increased 31 percent over last year.
"About 800 of those 1,400 adult students will be taking some classes online, which is just a huge, huge shift, which shows us we’re in the right direction with offering that flexibility," Briell said.
As part of its strategic plan, Brenau plans to grow to about 5,000 students in the next decade, and most of the new growth will be in numbers of graduate students.
The university also plans to cap the enrollment of the women’s college at about 800 or 900 students as it becomes an increasingly more selective undergraduate institution.
While Brenau’s campus is full of students from North Georgia and across the country, the school also welcomes back to campus students from China, Taiwan, Afghanistan, Belgium and South America.
"Diversity is something we’re really comfortable with here," Briell said, pointing out that 1 in 4 Brenau students has a diverse background either ethnically or culturally.
In the latest issue of U.S. News & World Reports, on newsstands today, Brenau is listed as 34th best among all similar colleges and universities in an 11-state region.
Also included in the rankings were North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega at No. 56 and Piedmont College in Demorest, listed in the third tier of schools. The three schools’ rankings appear among the magazine’s listings of colleges and universities whose highest academic programs lead to master’s degrees.