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Georgia sees college enrollment drop in 2021

One of the largest drops happened at Middle Georgia State University, but they say they're already seeing an enrollment boom for next year.

MACON, Ga. — Enrollment at most of Georgia's public colleges is down this year.

One of the largest drops happened at Middle Georgia State University.

Kessiny Neal is a senior math major at Middle Georgia State University. 

Neal says she's grown to love her school far more than she could imagine, from the countless opportunities she's received to everything she's achieved. 

"Here at Middle Georgia State, family is everywhere. Everybody wants to see everybody succeed and be able to find their greatness. I think it could be taken advantage of a little more," Neal said.

Neal is the president of campus activities, and she says this year, they've noticed a drop in student enrollment.

The college's full-time enrollment dropped by 7.8% from 2020 to 2021, one of the biggest drops in the state.

"That's after nine consecutive semesters of enrollment growth, so it may be a byproduct of our own success," David Jenks said.

David Jenks, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, says the pandemic also played a huge role in the dip.

"We weren't able to get into the high schools last year and actively recruit, and I think it may be the case that students have taken a year off during the pandemic and didn't want to come," Jenks said.

They're working to fix that.

"We're now back in the high schools this year, hopefully that will return some of the first-time full-time freshmen that we lost last year, as well as recruiting those students who took a year off," Jenks said.

Jenks says despite this year's drop, they're seeing signs of an enrollment boom this year. 

"Our enrollment teams are working day to day on yielding those students and getting them in here, to get that same engaging experience that we've had over the last 4 to 5 years," Jenks said.

Both Jenks and Neal say they hope that more students apply and come take advantage of what the university has to offer.

"Middle Georgia State is one of the most affordable options in the system and the state of Georgia for some incredibly high-performing programs, with really engaged faculty who want to create those one-on-one relationships with students," Jenks said.

"Choosing Middle Georgia State was like I was coming home to a family. We are a great institution, and we see great rewards for students after the accomplish their achievements," Neal said.

Jenks says they've already seen a 40% increase in applications, over last year.