On Enrollment: Reason to Celebrate

Two weeks ago, as the semester got underway, I shared with your our theme for this year—Greatness in the Making. I noted that we would have to be creative in addressing the university’s challenges, working smarter, not merely harder. And I expressed my confidence in our ability to achieve greatness, as a community made up of innovative, dedicated individuals.

I am pleased to report that through the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff, we met our enrollment goals for this semester.  In the four weeks since Convocation, we closed the gap, helping more than 500 students—some 300 of whom are new students—enroll at Middle Georgia State. Among them are 20 more graduate students, bringing enrollment in our new master’s programs to nearly three times our initial projections.

This is great news. It means that on our first test of the semester as an institution, we not only passed, we scored an A. Total enrollment and credit hour production for Fall 2016, 7,668 students working toward 83,980 credit hours, are both above 99% of our Fall 2015 numbers.

Flat enrollment may not sound like a resounding victory, but after our first enrollment increase in more than five years, holding steady is indeed reason to celebrate. This is particularly so because we avoided the decrease in enrollment that has been the trend in Georgia south of Metro Atlanta.

Moreover, we attracted better prepared students. MGA’s traditional freshmen are not merely part of the generation that, according to The Mindset List for the Class of 2020, has never had to watch or listen to programs at a scheduled time. Our Freshman Index is up by 92 points—on average 12 points on the SAT Verbal and 8 points on the SAT Math—which means the number of traditional freshmen requiring Learning Support is down by 24%.

Perhaps most importantly for the most affordable university in Georgia, our enrollment results mean that for the first time in six years, we will expect good news on the budget front. For the next two years, Academic Years 2017-18 and 2018-19, we will not not have to weather another cut in state appropriations.

Henry Ford once remarked that, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Our enrollment figures demonstrate that we—nearly 7,700 students and nearly 1,000 full and part-time faculty and staff—have come together.

In the coming weeks, as we finalize our goals for 2016-17, let us keep together and work together. Doing so, we will succeed in achieving greatness individually and collectively. Our success is vital for our students, the university, and the economic development of the diverse region we call home.