College competition tightens - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

College competition tightens

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It is getting tougher to get into Georgia's top public colleges.

This year's freshmen classes at UGA, Georgia State, and Georgia Tech broke records for SAT scores and G.P.A.'s.

The rising quality at the top is trickling down and fueling growth and higher standards at smaller public universities.

Like so many other small schools, Albany State is seeing the same rising quality trend.

And students I spoke with say the HOPE scholarship is the reason they stayed in state.

Edward Cooper is a freshman at Albany State University.

Only a few months ago he was applying to colleges.

"I did feel like it was competitive because you have people from all over the country trying to get into one school," says Edward Cooper, Freshman student.

With a 3.4 GPA and a 1300 SAT score, he had a choice from a few schools, but he decided on A.S.U.

He says the HOPE scholarship is what kept him in Georgia.

"Even though you might want to go out of state, it is very helpful that you are getting that extra needed help," says Cooper.

More students with High GPA's and high test scores are staying in-state for that same reason, making admissions to Georgia public schools more competitive.

"I have plenty of friends that have gotten accepted to schools in Florida, Tennessee, Carolina, but they have turned them down," says Cooper.

"Some of my friends could have gone out of state but stayed in state because of the HOPE scholarship," says Jazmine Gonzalez, Sophomore student.

Before the HOPE scholarship began in 1993, less than one quarter of high school graduates with a 1400 or higher on the SAT stayed in state for school, but now about three-quarters do.

"There is competition amongst the top high caliber student is very steep, so therefore, it is more competitive out there and students are actually realizing they can get a quality education by staying closer to home," says James Burrell, ASU Enrollment Services Director.

As more top students stay in state, it also getting harder to get into schools such as Albany State.

"All colleges are going after the higher caliber student, the high SAT, the high GPA students," says Burrell.

And Edward Cooper wants high school students to be aware, it may be harder than they think to get into college and stay on track.

"Stay focused when you get to college because there are so many distractions, I have only been here three weeks, and I am already distracted," says Cooper.

Edward Cooper says his first choice was Georgia State but when he came to visit Albany State University, the small college feel is what sold him.

Undergraduate enrollment in Georgia has skyrocketed in the last decade, growing by 77% from 1999 to 2009. That outpaces the nation's growth of 38%.

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