Enrollment up at UTC, down at Dalton State

Enrollment up at UTC, down at Dalton State

September 8th, 2011 by Perla Trevizo in News

Steffi Sellge, a new UTC freshman from Nashville and a host of volunteers help her move into the on-campus Decosimo dorms Thursday morning.

Steffi Sellge, a new UTC freshman from Nashville...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as of Sept. 4

Total: 11,429, up 6 percent from 2010

First time freshmen: 2,171, up 11.4 percent from 2010

New transfers: 787, up 11.5 percent from 2010

Source: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Dalton State College as of Sept. 4

Total enrollment: 5,506, down 8 percent from 2010

Full-time equivalent enrollment: 4,611, down 8.6 percent from 2010.

Full-time enrollment: 58.94 percent

Source: Dalton State College

While UTC's enrollment grew 6 percent this year, Dalton State's fell by 8 percent.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 14th-day numbers show total enrollment increased to 11,429 students, up from 10,781 last year. Its biggest increases were in first-time freshmen and new transfers, which grew more than 11 percent each.

Meanwhile, Dalton State College in Georgia, which had seen constant growth over a decade, lost almost 500 students this year, data show.

This year there were more juniors and seniors than last year. But about 150 fewer first-time freshmen enrolled and 150 more students didn't come back for their sophomore year, said Jodi Johnson, vice president for enrollment and student services at the college.

University System of Georgia spokesman John Millsaps said the system estimated total enrollment between 315,000 and 320,000 this year, up from 311,000 last year. He said official numbers won't be in until at least November.

Johnson said officials think a number of factors affected Dalton State enrollment this year, including the area's unemployment rate, which was 12.5 percent in July and remains higher than the state and national averages.

"In the past, [unemployment] often-time has led to an increase in students coming back to school to either complete a degree or get training, but I think the continued lag in the economy has affected us this time as well," she said.

She also attributed the loss to a new Georgia Northwestern Technical College campus in the county and a change in admission standards.

Dalton State will raise its admission standards over the next two years, she said. The new standards will require a standardized test, and the college won't admit students who need learning support in all three areas of math, reading and writing.

"We anticipate losing more students [next year] that we would have gotten in the past," she said.

The growth at UTC is part of a six-year trend, said Phil Oldham, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

"We've seen a 30 percent increase in enrollment over the last six years, about a 5 percent average growth a year," he said.

"The thought [that] the recession is driving more people to school might be true, but our growth curve at UTC really predated the economic downturn," he said. "It's hard to know how much of it is driven by the recession and the unemployment rates and more students coming to UTC naturally."

Enrollment numbers help colleges and universities determine funding, plan for the future, make their case for construction projects and show they are places where students want to go to, college official said.

Dalton State officials said it's too early to know how the enrollment numbers will affect funding, but Johnson said the numbers will lead the college to analyze its programs and recruiting.

"It causes us to do some deeper analysis," she said.

Growth can have mixed results, Oldham said.

"There are continuing issues with any dynamic and growing campus," said Oldham. "Pressure and demand on student housing, recreational activities, course availability, all those things are important and that's a continual issue to try to grow all the things students will need."

But there are a lot of positives, he added.

More students help make the campus more vibrant and shows that parents and students value the education they can get at UTC, Oldham said.

"It makes a very strong statement that students and families see UTC as a good value for their educational dollar," he added.

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