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Georgia college enrollment continues to increase
Sophomore Josh Moncada works on a lab Wednesday during an introduction to physics class at Gainesville State College. Enrollment is on the rise at many colleges around the area. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

As college students settle into their new classes, officials are releasing numbers that show a continued increase in enrollment.

Enrollment at North Georgia College & State University is up more than 7 percent this fall, which is more than school officials had expected. The undergraduate admissions office received 1,000 more freshman applications than in 2009.

"We've seen the applications increase dramatically over the past few years, and that's important as students see the academic strengths that North Georgia offers as they look for programs to fit their professional goals," said Kate Maine, director of public relations. "We do try to manage the growth so North Georgia does not lose the flavor of a small school. The increase in enrollment should help offset some of the budget reductions we anticipate coming this year."

On Aug. 18, the first day of classes, enrollment was at 5,853, which includes a growth in the Corps of Cadets to more than 750 this year and added an eighth company. The increase is driven by the U.S. Army's request for more officers from the nation's service academies and senior military colleges.

"The U.S. Army Cadet Command wants the Military Department to commission 85 new lieutenants each year beginning in 2015," said Keith Antonia, NGCSU's director of cadet recruiting. "The university's analysis is that we will need a Corps of Cadets of 850 to produce 85 lieutenants annually."

Numbers at Gainesville State College, which started Aug. 16, and Brenau University, which started Aug. 23, are still trickling in, but both schools are seeing an increase.

"We know we'll have an increase between 1 percent and 3 percent," said Sloan Jones, GSC director of public relations. "We're still fleshing out the numbers with the drop/add period and financial aid and scheduling."

With a downturned economy, more students are heading to college for skills.

"Enrollment growth indicates that GSC is fulfilling the University System of Georgia's mission of ‘creating a more educated Georgia,' " said GSC President Martha T. Nesbitt. "The college is located in an area of growing population and increasing numbers of high school graduates whom we need to serve. Currently, our area lags behind the national average of people who hold baccalaureate degrees, and we want to increase that number, a growth that promotes the economic and social health of the region."

Brenau is seeing steady numbers as well, with more than 900 students enrolled in the women's college and about 2,700 overall.

"The numbers bode well, and we'll be a bit above last year," said Scott Briell, senior vice president for enrollment management and student services. "From a budget standpoint, we'll be in good shape. At the public schools, I'm not surprised to see an increase due to the economy and students picking less expensive schools. That's why we're so excited about our numbers on a slight increase."


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