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CSU soars to new enrollment record

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

A preliminary spring enrollment count at Clayton State University shows there appears to be more people attending the 41-year old Morrow-based university this semester than ever before, school officials announced on Wednesday.

University officials announced their preliminary count, while not yet an official figure, shows there are 6,785 students studying at Clayton State during the spring semester, which began earlier this month. That is a new all-time enrollment record, the university announced. School officials also said it is a 1.5 percent increase in enrollment from the spring 2010 semester, when the university set its previous enrollment record of 6,687 students.

Mark Daddona, Clayton State's interim associate vice-president for enrollment management, said in a written statement, that there will likely be some minor adjustments to the enrollment figure as enrollment staff members account for changes in the status of a few students.

"The numbers will increase slightly as we process a few reinstatements for students, and the numbers will also drop slightly due to no-show reports," Daddona said.

The official enrollment figures for every institution in the University System of Georgia, including Clayton State, are expected to be released by the university system's Board of Regents later this spring, according to a press release from Clayton State.

University President Tim Hynes said he was pleased with the university's enrollment growth, even though the numbers have not yet been made official by university system officials. He attributed the growth to more people hearing about the commitment of the university's employees.

"We believe [the new enrollment record came] with the communications that students have received, that the faculty, and staff, of this institution are committed, every day, to making a difference in the learning of our students," Hynes said. "We're becoming increasingly effective in communicating that message to our present, and hopefully future, students."

Previously, the university had a fall 2010 enrollment of 6,603 students, which was enough to set a record for fall enrollment, but just shy of breaking the spring 2010 all-time record.

An interesting trend has started to develop at the university, however. The enrollments for the spring 2010, and spring 2011 semesters have been higher than the enrollments of their preceding fall semesters, bucking a long-standing trend in which enrollment typically dropped during the spring semesters, compared to fall semesters.

University officials said the old "more students in the fall" trend, tends to get thrown out when the conversation focuses on a school, such as Clayton State, where non-traditional students make up a large chunk of the pupil population.

"The bursts of enrollments for this institution historically have not only been a number of first-time, full-time freshmen enrolling in a fall semester," Hynes said. "Clayton State also attracts a large number of returning students, a large number of transfer students, a large number of students who come to us to complete a degree, which they have started here, but they also may have started elsewhere ...

"It is the effect of those returning students, [and] of those students seeking completion of degrees, that I think contributes to the pattern of a large number of new students here, not only in the fall, but each spring also," Hynes added.

University spokesman, John Shiffert, said a non-traditional student could be a student in his, or her mid-twenties and older, or it could be a high school student taking dual enrollment classes at the university. He pointed out that the average age of a Clayton State student is approximately 27-years old. The number of non-traditional students enrolled at the university this spring was not available on Wednesday.

"We're not of the typical pattern of what you would see at a college 20, to 30 years ago," Shiffert said.