“From where I sit, the stars are aligning and the North star is guiding us exactly in the direction we need to be,” said Greg Aloia, president of the college.
A newly released report shows enrollment numbers at the college are climbing and programs offered by the Brunswick-based institution are on the rise.
According to the University System of Georgia and its system wide fall 2015 enrollment report, the college has seen a 4.1 percent increase in enrollment numbers since 2014.
The college’s enrollment this semester totals 3,131 students. That includes 1,105 new students brought to campus this fall, an increase of 15 percent over the previous fall semester.
“This is excellent news and we have more in the works to keep those numbers going up,” Aloia said. “Our former president and the college’s board (of trustees) had the foresight needed to help us absorb even more students in our future. People come here, see a college and classrooms, but if they stick around, they also see we are a true community.”
A key reason the college has witnessed enrollment growth is its willingness to partner with other education facilities.
As much was discussed Friday during the two-day Lieutenant Governor’s Business and Education Summit held at Golden Isles Career Academy. There, Aloia, career academy CEO and executive director Rick Townsend, Coastal Pines Technical College President Glenn Deibert and representatives from the Glynn County School System discussed with statewide business leaders and education officials the significance teamwork and partnerships have on a community.
From the college’s standpoint, that network of cooperation and collaboration is why trends such as enrollment increases occur.
“We have a very unique set up in our community. No one plays turf wars and we are all on the same page,” Aloia said. “We are all in it for the betterment of our institutions, for the betterment of our community and for increased college and post-secondary education options for our students.”
The statewide Move on When Ready campaign has also been a huge boon for the college, bringing in high school students to earn dual credit while taking college courses, Aloia said.
High school students who are introduced to the college campus, its degree programs and its faculty tend to want to stay in college and complete a degree, Aloia said.
The college also is an active participant in the university system’s Go Back, Move Ahead initiative, which pushes working-age adults to return to college to finish degree programs and earn a diploma. That program has been beneficial to veterans, Aloia said.
Expanded online degree programs also have helped push up enrollment numbers.
Aloia points to the expanded offerings at the college as reasons students are continually seeing it as an attractive secondary education option. More degree programs have been added in recent years, on campus housing is now offered and a second campus-based housing option will open next fall. When the second residence hall opens next year, on campus living will be available to about 570 students, he said.
Having coastal beach options not far from campus doesn’t hurt, either, he said.
“We are seeing our vision of being a college of choice come to life,” he said. “We are providing an outstanding education for tomorrow’s leaders and citizens through service learning, global awareness, and engaged entrepreneurship.”
Eighteen of the university system’s institutions show an increase in enrollment and 12 a drop in the number of students.
Dual enrollment, such as the Move on When Ready program, saw a huge spike in interest, with enrollment in that category increasing more than 18 percent. As of this semester, 7,916 students statewide took up the double-credit option, a large jump from the 6,700 students who took part in the program in fall 2014.
Online learning also is a growing trend. Since 2009, e-learning program enrollment has increased from 1,571 to about 6,200 students statewide.
Total enrollment at the 30 institutions in the University System of Georgia is 318,164 students. That number reflects a 1.7 percent increase from fall 2014, according to the report.
“At the College of Coastal Georgia, we are working hard to make our campus the institution of choice for our state’s students, and beyond,” Aloia said. “We’re seeing that hard work pay off and it’s a very exciting time to be a part of this campus.”
Photo by Bobby Haven