Declining Enrollment within GC


Many smaller Georgia colleges have struggled with declining enrollment. GA educators believe this to be a repercussion of decreasing birth rates and fewer students receiving high school diplomas. These outlying factors have begun impacting universities as those who do not get their diplomas cannot attend college.

Out of six USG schools, East Georgia State has experienced declines in enrollment greater than 20% within the past five years. This problem has not escaped GC, as the admissions department announced via Instagram that the admissions deadline has been extended for this year.

It was only a few years ago that GC saw its largest freshman class in university history. Now, this statement has been released, and it is possible that GC is experiencing some major declines in enrollment. GC admissions office employee Jillian Bolak shed light about the GC recruitment process as well as how the drops in enrollment have impacted GC.

“During the past two years of COVID related disruptions, prospective students have had limited access to the SAT and ACT; the University System of Georgia announced they were lifting standardized test requirements from system institutions with the exception of the top three most selective universities,” Bolak said. “As a selective institution, GC employs a holistic admissions review process to identify prospective students who demonstrate a high likelihood that they will be successful in meeting their goals and aspirations here at GC. In order to provide students more time to submit standardized test scores and to allow them to submit the April 2 ACT results, we extended the application deadline.”

Bolak described the recruitment process for the admissions office employees and what the number typically looks like from year to year.

“Admissions counselors are assigned by county, this approach allows us to build relationships with students, parents and counselors in our recruitment territories,” Bolak said. “We travel to high schools, attend college fairs and host events in our designated areas. Currently, total freshman applications for fall of 2022 are on record pace, with more than 5,600 applicants.”

For many currently enrolled GC students, it is the atmosphere and smaller dynamic of the school that interests them and plays a considerable influence in them choosing GC. GC senior and business management major Ian Frager said he wanted to stay in the state while attending college. That was a major factor that contributed to him attending GC. “I chose GC because I wasn’t going to go out of state, and of the schools in Georgia I got into, GC seemed like it had enough going on to keep me interested while also keeping me on task,” Frager said.

Frager also gave his opinion about the possible enrollment decrease, and how some of these issues could be amended.

“More people are starting to think that a college degree isn’t all that necessary,” Frager said. “Also, with how expensive it’s getting to attend college, affordability might be a larger

contributing factor. I’d say working towards a more affordable education and reassuring students the value of a college degree would benefit schools seeing a decline in enrollment.”

Frager is not the only GC student to appreciate the balance of social and school life in Milledgeville, as GC junior and business management major Bobby Norman experienced a similar fascination with Milledgeville and the university.

“I had opportunities to visit my sister who went here, and she and the rest of GC showed how nice the campus is and how there’s a perfect balance between social life and school life,” Norman said. “You can have fun and party, but when you need to get stuff done you have the time and not as many temptations to go out or be somewhere else when you need to study.”

The GC admissions office also played a factor in Norman’s choice to attend GC in the fall of 2019.

“They said at the beginning of our freshman year only a certain number of freshmen are selected to come to GC,” Norman said. “The effect of it being accepted by a certain number of people made it feel like even more of an accomplishment.”

Despite the rumors of a drastic drop in enrollment at GC, the numbers remain stable and consistent. Perhaps this is a result of the campus environment and the good reputation that GC continues to uphold. It seems that GC has been able to recover from the limitations of this decline and enrollment numbers are back to a consistent level.