Dalton State’s Enrollment Dips
After a decade of steady growth, Dalton State College’s fall 2011 enrollment has dipped eight percent from where it was a year ago.
Last fall, the College counted 5,988 students on its rolls; this fall, the number is 5,506, a decline of 8.05 percent.
There are several factors contributing to the decline in enrollment, said Dr. Jodi Johnson, Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services, among them the College’s new higher admissions standards, cuts to HOPE and other financial aid, and the continued sluggish economy. The opening of a Georgia Northwestern Technical College campus in the community has resulted in an additional loss of students.
“This confluence of events has had the unfortunate effect of causing a dip at the moment, but we still believe we are positioning the College better to serve the higher education needs of the region now and in the future,” said Dalton State President Dr. John O. Schwenn.
“Our higher admissions standards mean that we are enrolling those students that we believe have the best chance of succeeding here and graduating with a college diploma,” he said. “It’s no longer sufficient just to get students into our classrooms, we want them to progress through an academic program and graduate with a Dalton State degree.
“I am pleased to report that even though our total enrollment is down, we have increased our number of juniors and seniors,” he said. “This shows us that we are on the right path. In the long run, we want students who can finish the race, not just cross the start line. We’re in a period of adjustment right now, but we’re getting where we want to be.”
For five years, Dalton State, along with several other University System of Georgia state colleges, participated in a pilot study in which they did not require SAT or ACT scores as a condition for admission, Dr. Johnson said. Last spring, the colleges reinstated the test requirement for degree-seeking students, and also imposed a freshman index score based on high school GPA and test scores. As a result of the new admission criteria, all the pilot study colleges, except one, experienced a dip in fall enrollment.
“As we’ve said before, it benefits no one to put students through the effort and expense of college if their likelihood for success is virtually non-existent,” Dr. Johnson said. “Our new screening criteria identify those individuals whose likelihood for success in college is very low so they can be redirected elsewhere.
How many students were lost due to the new admission criteria as opposed to enrolling in Georgia Northwestern or electing not to come to college at all because of changes in HOPE and other financial aid is impossible to tell, Dr. Schwenn explained. “All we know is that we lost students,” he said.