Angelica Luna, Correspondent
While some colleges and universities nationwide are faced with diminishing student enrollment while pushing through the effects of COVID-19, Jacksonville State University has reported its highest enrollment numbers since 2011.
“I think one of the most important pieces supporting our enrollment this fall was a comprehensive effort across all divisions to connect with students throughout the spring and summer,” said Tim King, JSU’s vice president of student success. “From academic advising to assisting with financial paperwork, faculty and staff came together campus-wide to ensure students had what they needed to enroll.”
The university’s total student enrollment currently for fall 2020 stands at 9,238, indicating a 2.4 percent increase compared to fall 2019.
Total credit hour production also rose 1.5 percent and rose above 104,000 for the first time since 2012. This is a measurement of the number of credit hours in which students have been enrolled.
The number of returning students also increased 7.6 percent. Graduate student enrollment alone climbs 17.2 percent and exceeds 1,400 for the first time since fall 2010. Credit hour production representing only graduate students also has risen by 23.4 percent.
The university said in their press release announcing the enrollment data that an aggressive communications campaign took place on campus during the summer for the purpose of academic departments “connecting with current students and the Office of Admissions contacting all first-time freshmen and transfer students to answer questions and offer support.”
Vice President of Enrollment Management, Emily Messer recognizes the university’s efforts of personally reaching out to prepare students as a true representation of the “Friendliest Campus in the South” reputation.
“That was an expression of how much JSU cares about our students,” said Messer. “We were willing to meet them where they were, even during a pandemic.”
The university points to their success in adapting the constraints of social distancing as a reason for the increase, including events such as Spring Preview Days, Accepted Students Day and a drive-thru to pick up scholarship certificates and Future Gamecock lawn signs.
In 2021, the university said they aim to break the current enrollment record of 9,504 students from 2010.
The press release credited Don Killingsworth, JSU’s president, with stepping up communication efforts, keeping the campus updated on the university’s plans through town hall sessions and “quadrupling” the amount of announcements sent campus-wide.
“I am proud of how faculty and staff pulled together, during these difficult times, to help grow the JSU family,” said Killingsworth. “I am also thankful to our students, who decided to begin or continue their studies on campus, despite the uncertain times we live in. As we saw in 2018, when enrollment remained steady in the face of a natural disaster, nothing can stop the Gamecock spirit.”