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More GSC students heading to class
College increases its enrollment by 15 percent
Allison Craven, left, and Holly Dickerson walk across the Gainesville State College campus the on the first day of school Monday. - photo by Tom Reed


Gainesville State College spokeswoman Sloan Jones talks about enrollment numbers this academic year at the college.

Feel the traffic suddenly pick up Monday on Mundy Mill Road?

That partly might be because Gainesville State College went back into session for the 2008-09 academic year, and unofficial enrollment numbers are showing a 15 percent increase.

Kevin Dallesasse, 19, was beginning his first day of classes, having moved to the area four days ago from Texas.

He moved with his father, who works for a distribution company and was transferred to the area.

"I’m excited," he said about starting at GSC, where he will be a biology major. "They treat you with more respect than in high school. It’s really nice here."

The college has about 8,600 total students at its Oakwood and Watkinsville campuses, said Sloan Jones, spokeswoman for the school.

The Oakwood campus has grown to about 6,400 students from 5,400. The Watkinsville campus is staying at or near its student capacity of 2,250 students.

"There are always a lot of factors that are looked at as far as the enrollment and where the growth comes from," Jones said.

"I do know from hearing people talk about it in admissions and the registration area ... that when the economy is not as good, people do go back to school. They either are making a transition or they’re changing careers — things like that."

Also, "the area continues to grow," Jones added. "Even though the economy is down, stuff is still happening."

Students will see a couple of big changes in the coming school year.

The college is finishing up work on its student center. An addition to the building is complete, with renovations set to be finished in mid- to late October, Jones said.

The building is set for a formal dedication in January.

The center features a "one-stop" service area where students can get registration, admissions or financial help.

"Then, if they need more in-depth help or they need particular information, they can go to those respective offices," Jones said.

More parking is planned for the growing student body. The college is planning a parking deck near the physical education complex.

"That’s still in the works," Jones said. "If there needs to be overflow (parking), students will be allowed to park down in the lower field near the amphitheater."

The college had "greeters" all over campus Monday to help students find a classroom, pay a fee or take care of other school business.

"These folks will be here through Wednesday, and we have them in the morning and the evening," Jones said.