Originally created 08/25/06

ASU population grows



Augusta State University's enrollment is rising again.

University officials released the unofficial student count Thursday, that says enrollment had gone up about 200 students - from 6,333 to 6,551. Since 2001, ASU has had an increase of more than 1,100 students - a 21 percent increase.

Katherine Sweeney, registrar and director of admissions, attributed the gains to several factors, including retention efforts and better recruiting.

Last year when the university opened its first housing development, the off-campus apartments of University Village, recruiters began targeting about a dozen high schools in Atlanta, she said.

"We have to be careful that we don't oversell ourselves, too, so it's a real balancing act," she said.

Mrs. Sweeney also noted the opening of the Jaguar Student Activities Center, which she said is so popular that students wait for it to open in the morning and have to be told to leave in the evening.

This fall's gains surpassed projections by about 100 students, although by midterm when numbers are official, they could drop slightly, said Dan Whitfield, vice president of business operations. At its current rate, ASU could reach capacity for its Walton Way campus within two or three years. Capacity has been estimated to be 7,200 students.

Mr. Whitfield said the growth is expected to continue as high school graduation rates climb. But students are already feeling the effect of the additional classmates each time they park their cars.

"I'm not going to gain the freshman 15 because I have to walk," sophomore Mike Ingham said, referring to the common weight-gain of first-year students.

His friends, Stephen James, Tony Bell and D'Marc'ques Brown, agreed parking difficulties accompany the growth, so they've learned to get to class an hour early.

Fortunately, a new 125-space parking lot is helping absorb the growth, Mr. Whitfield said. That brings about 2,500 spaces to campus, and there are also overflow lots off campus.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

RISING ENROLLMENT


Augusta State University's enrollment experienced another significant increase. Officials measure their enrollment using the fall enrollment as a benchmark and released this fall's unofficial figures Thursday. The following are enrollments in recent years:


2006*.........6,551

2005.........6,333

2004.........6,368

2003.........6,135

2002.........5,909

2001.........5,407

*unofficial

Source: Augusta State University