Despite Tougher Admission Standards, Columbus State Enrollment Rises Slightly

 COLUMBUS, Ga. —  Final, official enrollment crept up slightly at Columbus State University this fall, even with an unprecedented number of applicants who were denied admission because of tougher academic standards.

Over the past few years, Columbus State has been slowly raising high school GPA requirements and minimum SAT and ACT scores that it would accept from CSU applicants. This fall, the minimums ticked up again and 240 more applicants were turned away for not meeting the university’s standards for entering students.

That denial rate is one reason that, while CSU had a record number of applications -- 420 more than the previous year -- its final enrollment for 2011 ended up at 8,307, just nine students over last year’s enrollment. Final figures were submitted to the University System of Georgia last week.

“Topping 8,300 students is another record-setting enrollment for us, but what I’m most pleased about is that it appears that we are bringing in students who are better academically qualified,” said CSU President Tim Mescon. “That’s long been a goal of ours as we work on a variety of fronts to better retain, progress and graduate our students.”

University officials also concede that the state-mandated change in HOPE scholarship program and the nation’s continuing economic problems may have played a role in preventing more of the 5,738 applicants from becoming CSU students.

From that applicant pool, 2,366 people became CSU freshmen this year, a slight decrease from 2010. On the positive side, 1,267 students were enrolled in graduate programs, continuing a trend that shows a 52.5 percent increase in graduate school enrollment over the past five years.

The figures also show an increasing number of students are finding their way to CSU from Atlanta-area counties, where the university has been heavily recruiting and advertising for the past three years. This fall, numbers show, 60 percent of applicants to CSU were from the Atlanta area. The number of enrolled students from Gwinnett County was up 8 percent to 232 students; from DeKalb County, up 28 percent to 160; from Fulton County; up 16 percent to 186; from Cobb County, up 2.5 percent to 163; and from Clayton County, up 18 percent to 79 students.

“Obviously, our message is getting out in Atlanta that Columbus State University is an attractive option for students,” Mescon said. “Our tuition is low, the quality of our academic programs is high, the student life experiences on campus are abundant, and we’re just the right distance away – not too close, but not too far.”

# # #