For its first fall semester as a consolidated university, undergraduate enrollment at Georgia Regents University dropped by about 420 students compared with the former Augusta State University’s fall 2012 class, according to a consolidation progress report.
The decrease continues an enrollment decline ASU had experienced every year since 2009, but Vice Provost Roman Cibirka said the new demographics indicate a more prepared and qualified student body.
While the overall undergraduate count fell to 5,669, GRU recruited nearly the exact same number of new freshman as ASU did in 2012, indicating the loss came from sophomores, juniors and seniors. Of the 762 freshman, 71 percent of students are taking at least 15 credits this semester compared with 9 percent of students in 2012.
The push for full-time course loads is part of the university’s effort to help students finish a degree on time or at all – something ASU struggled with in the past. In 2010, only 7 percent of ASU students completed a bachelor’s degree in four years while 25 percent finished in six.
“We put a very strong effort towards advising students at the time of enrollment and discussing with students and parents the importance of graduation,” Cibirka said.
Even with a strong freshman class, the undergraduate enrollment dropped to 5,669 this year, bringing total enrollment to 9,002. Cibirka said the university is gathering data to find which colleges lost the most students and for what reasons.
The number of graduate students this semester remained mostly unchanged at 1,590, health sciences professional students increased by about 40 to 1,220 and dental/medical residents remained the same at 523. New undergraduate transfer students also increased this year to 740 from 539 in 2012.
GRU officials hope to reach 10,684 enrollment in fall 2020 while continuing to recruit higher-caliber students. The freshman index, the minimum SAT score and GPA requirement used in admissions, rose this fall to 2040 from ASU’s 1940.
GRU gradually will increase its minimum index score over time to reach 2500, a more typical score for research universities.
To continue access for lower-achieving students, GRU launched a partnership with East Georgia State College, where students take 30 credit hours as EGSC students and transfer to GRU as sophomores if they complete those courses with at least a 2.0 GPA.
It replaces the University College program, which provided remediation courses for students who did not meet entrance requirements for ASU.
Cibirka said the university’s lower enrollment this year was not surprising, since most consolidated schools see a decline in the first year. Because the University System of Georgia Board of Regents only approved the consolidation in January, recruiting efforts were also delayed.
Cibirka could not provide an enrollment goal for fall 2014 but said recruitment will continue to focus in Georgia and beyond to recruit a high-caliber student.
“In the end, even though our enrollment numbers are steady or slightly lower, were are pleased with the outcome,” he said.