Numbers Up at 10 of Arkansas' 11 Four Year Colleges -- Down at ASU - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Kathy Morris reports

Numbers Up at 10 of Arkansas' 11 Four Year Colleges -- Down at ASU

SEPTEMBER 21, 2004 -- Posted at: 9:40pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - High schoolers, like Garrett Wray, may represent an example of why student enrollment numbers at Arkansas State University, are down 0.5%.

"I'm still in high school. I'm taking classes out here in the afternoons just to get started a little bit earlier," explained Garrett Wray, a Valley View Senior who is taking classes at ASU.

Recent legislation is causing some of the high school students who normally take concurrent courses to instead enroll in Advanced Placement classes, because AP credit may raise their grade point average. Another theory ASU administrators have is that kids are choosing to work or help their families right out of high school.

Lynita Cooksey, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said, "I'm sure that with the number of community colleges that we have in our area, that's an incentive for many students who are not quite ready to come to a 4 year campus."

Doctor Rick Stripling, ASU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, believes an influx of residents to the central and northwest parts of the state is a reason why enrollment at those nearby colleges are up. He's hoping their recruiting efforts will help increase numbers next year.

"We go to college fairs with recruiters. We have faculty who have special programs that come to the campus and bring people to the campus on Saturdays and during the weekdays, and so getting people here is an important factor for us," added Dr. Stripling.

Those efforts are working in some areas. There was a significant increase in the number of minority students, graduate students and those taking classes at the Paragould campus. To better understand why numbers are down in other areas, administrators will soon start assessing enrollment trends.

"We'll collect data to see what the backgrounds are on our entering class, where they came from, why they chose to come to ASU. We'll look at those students who maybe applied to our campus, but then chose to go elsewhere," Cooksey said.

Garrett Wray said, for now, ASU administrators will likely be able to include him on their list of enrolled students next year.

"More than likely. Yes. It's home town; close to home," added Wray.

As for Arkansas' two-year colleges, 15 of 22 saw enrollment increases. Mid-south Community College in West Memphis is 1 of 4 state schools to have an increase of more than 10% over last year.

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