ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More people are going to college in Georgia than ever. The University System of Georgia reports record enrollment this fall.
Nearly 283,000 students are enrolled even as schools are being forced to slash their budgets. Last year, the system adopted a plan to grow enrollment by 100,000 students by 2020. South Georgia schools are helping them towards that goal.
Keshana Odom is clicking away at the computer with big dreams beyond the screen. It's her first semester of college and so far so good. "I like it. It's good. My grades are acceptable right now," said Odom.
Odom knows the grades and the ultimate degree are the tickets to a future in forensic science and chose Albany State University to help her along the ride. "It was just a good choice," said Odom.
4, 175 other enrolled students made the same choice in picking Albany State University. That Fall enrollment is up by more than 143 students compared to Fall of 2007. "That was the first time that Albany State University in the history of the school actually went beyond 4,000 students," said Dr. Joshua Murfree with Albany State University.
Fall enrollment is up across the state nearly 5 percent. There are nearly 13,000 more new students over last Fall at the state's 35 colleges and universities. "I'm extremely proud that within the University System of Georgia we're seeing that increase and I know that Chancellor Davis is proud of that and our President here is proud of it," said Murfree.
Albany State University leaders hope to build upon that trend by growing enrollment gradually over the next couple of years. By 2011, they hope to more than double enrollment to 10,000 students.
"We can get there and that's a part of our oversight committee and our strategic planning that's being done on campus so by 2011 we should see that jump," said Murfree.
Although enrollment is jumping at schools, the University System of Georgia reports a decrease of 18 percent in faculty and staff over a 7-year period. "We're pretty much at a stalemate if you can call it that. We can't always bring in new hires when we want to. We can only bring in critical hires," said Murfree.
Odom is just happy to be in school and be part of more than 46,000 first-time freshmen in Georgia. "It's just all around good," said Odom.
Next Fall, hundreds more could be taking the same venture.
Enrollment was up by the double digits at two Southwest Georgia schools. Bainbridge College is up 16-percent over last Fall. Georgia Southwestern grew by 13-percent.
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