Enrollment, ACT Scores Break Records

Posted on September 2, 2016
Joy Washington

As University of South Alabama students settle into their fall semester classes and study routines, the total enrollment for 2016 has increased to a record 16,699 students, a 1.4 percent increase from last year that includes a record undergraduate enrollment, along with the highest ACT scores and grade-point average scores of incoming freshmen in the University’s history. The increase adds 237 students to the total of 16,462 enrolled last fall.

"This year’s enrollment reflects the University’s growing reputation and position in the state and along the Gulf Coast,” said Dr. Tony Waldrop, president. “The increase in freshmen ACT scores shows the quality of students who choose to come to South. We remain committed to serving the Gulf Coast region but are very pleased to see students coming from throughout Alabama, as well as from all 50 states and from 79 countries."

Additional highlights for South:

  • First-time freshmen: 1,997
  • Undergraduate students: 11,761 — Record Enrollment

High GPAs and ACT Scores

South continues to focus on academic quality with 132 students having ACT scores of 30 or more, which is a 29.4 percent increase. The entering freshman class included 297 students with ACT scores of 28 or above and 197 with ACT scores of 29 or above.

Move-In Day kicked off South's Week of Welcome with faculty, staff and students helping freshmen unpack and get settled in.

"I am very pleased that the University, while raising admission standards for undergraduate students, set enrollment records again this year for total enrollment and for undergraduate enrollment,” said Dr. David Johnson, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Christopher Lynch, associate vice president for enrollment services, and his staff have recruited first-time freshmen from 391 high schools nationwide, with 115 students from Mobile’s Baker High School, which provided the highest number of incoming freshmen students enrolling at South.

“The University of South Alabama continues to attract students from across the country and the globe. This fall, we enrolled the most academically talented freshman class in the University’s history,” Lynch said. “The average composite ACT score is 23.5, up from 22.8 in Fall 2015. In addition, the average GPA for entering freshmen is 3.48, another University record. We are also excited to welcome a National Merit Scholar with a perfect 36 ACT score to our freshman class.”

Pathway USA Partnership Program

During the Spring semester, the University unveiled Pathway USA, a collaborative program that creates a seamless transition to USA for transfer students who earn their associates degree from Bishop State, Faulkner State or Mississippi Gulf Coast community colleges. The academic partnership will enable more graduates of those schools to transfer to South and earn their bachelor’s degrees from USA.

Johnson said more than 200 students have enrolled in the Pathway USA program, which greatly exceeded the expectations for the first year.

Retention Program

Student retention continues to be a challenge facing higher education nationally, but South has been able to retain 73 percent of last year’s freshman class, due to its Academic Success program led by Dr. Nicole Carr, associate vice president for academic success, with the help of her staff.

The Success Center academic resource center and the Advising & Transfer Services continue to play an instrumental role in making sure new students receive tutoring for classes and academic advising from professional staff.

Carr said a new initiative, involving first generation faculty, staff and administrators in supporting first generation students is being implemented this fall. More than one-third of South students are first-generation, which means that particular student is the first in their immediate family to attend college and earn a four-year college degree. “We are First Generation” features faculty, staff and administration who were themselves first generation students.

Jaguar Productions hosted a Welcome Back Block Party for students at Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza on Aug. 25.

The long-term goal of “We are First Generation” is to foster belonging and create mentoring opportunities for the students. 

“This new initiative will allow faculty, staff, and administrators who identify as first generation to indicate that by displaying an image on their office door, syllabus and/or website, or serving as a mentor,” Carr explained. “Some first generation students face a variety of challenges navigating the University. Other students may even feel like they don’t belong. This new initiative will provide a support system to ensure first generation students have a successful academic journey at South. We are hopeful to build a new mentoring program into this initiative.”

The First Generation College Student Organization, founded two years ago, is currently in the process of recruiting new members. Ashley Suggs is serving as advisor. Their next meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Sept. 6, in Room 205 of the Student Center. Myia Williams of Epes, Ala., a health care management junior, is serving as the current president.

“Our goal is to encourage and support current students at the University,” Williams noted. “As first generation students, it’s important that we face and deal with any struggles head on. We also want to give back by serving our community to help pave the way for future first generation college students.”

For more meeting dates and information, visit the First Generation College Student Organization’s Facebook page.

Carr said students can also take advantage of additional services, including the Writing Center, Math Technology Lab, Student-Athlete Academic Services and the Student Veterans Administration Office.

Entering freshmen classThe Class of 2020 includes music makers, competitive swimmers, artists and philanthropists. Find out more about the
most academically talented class to enroll at South.

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