CSU's Enrollment Levels Off in Fall 2012

COLUMBUS, Ga. —Rising admissions standards once again impacted Columbus State University's fall enrollment, which leveled off in 2012 after several years of steady growth.

According to figures the university submitted to the University System of Georgia this week, Columbus State's official fall 2012 enrollment was 8,239, down less than 1 percent from last year's record of 8,307.

At a time when enrollment throughout the University System of Georgia fell for only the third time since 1978, Columbus State University officials were pleased CSU's numbers remained stable. The news becomes even better when looking at the caliber of this year's class.

Denials for students who could not meet the university's rising minimum academic standards were up 31 percent over the previous year. That means more than 800 students who applied did not meet CSU's entrance standards this fall.

Looking at the flip side of that picture, Columbus State appears to be enrolling more highly qualified students;

  • The number of students eligible for CSU's Honors Program went up by 34 percent over last year.
  • The number of students who actually enrolled in the Honors Program went up by 27 percent over last year.
  • The number of enrolled freshmen who scored 1,200 or better on their SATs was up by 43 percent over last year.

"We are very pleased with our fall 2012 class," said CSU President Tim Mescon. "Our faculty have done a great job of leading us toward becoming a more highly selective school. This may be yet another reason why Columbus State University is now ranked by US News & World Report at among the top 50 public regional universities in the South."

The fall 2012 class includes 1,158 freshmen, 1,214 graduate students, 567 new transfer students and 83 "dual enrollment" students, meaning they are taking both high school and college credit courses, providing them with a substantial jump on their progress toward a bachelor's degree.

A faculty-driven committee sets the university's minimum academic standards. In 2009, they decided to start making incremental adjustments to the CSU's minimum entrance requirements. For fall 2013, the minimum will tick up again, and a high school GPA of at least 2.5 will be required for admission. National and CSU research studies have shown that high school grade point averages are highly predictive of academic success, persistence and degree attainment at the post-secondary education level.

"We anticipate these rising standards will pay off in the future in terms of higher retention and graduation rates, which are goals of ours and of the Complete College Georgia program," Mescon said.

University officials expected the rising standards would mean turning away more people, at a time when state resource allocations are largely driven by enrollment. Their predictions were accurate. Since 2009, denials based on students not meeting minimum academic standards were up by 145 percent. Compared to 2009, over 400 more freshman applicants were denied admission for fall 2012.

CSU's total enrollment over the last six years:

  • 2007: 7,590
  • 2008: 7,953
  • 2009: 8,179
  • 2010: 8,298
  • 2011: 8,307
  • 2012: 8,239

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