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'My education matters': Fort Valley State University works to grow student enrollment

Timothy Hatchett, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment, says their number of incoming freshmen have beat expectations.

FORT VALLEY, Ga. — It's move-in week for new Wildcats attending Fort Valley State University this year, but how is the school's enrollment?

13WMAZ’s Jessica Cha went to visit the campus to find out and talk to some incoming freshmen.

"We're looking forward to greeting all of our wonderful new Wildcats,” said Timothy Hatchett, Vice President of Student Enrollment.

He says their  number of incoming freshmen have beat expectations.

"Our goal was 596 students . Based on the three-year trend we did, with the exception of the pandemic, so we're doing well. We're currently at 674 students, which exceeds our enrollment goal,” Hatchett explains. 

According to the University System of Georgia. Fort Valley brought in its highest number of students in 2011 with almost 4,000 students.

In 2020, they topped out at 2,700 students, losing more than 1,000 students in 10 years.

Hatchett says they've used digital platforms to engage with their students more and used marketing to different areas.

“So, with that we're trending very much toward where we were before the pandemic, so it's a great thing that we're still continuing to grow,” he says. 

"It matters-- my education matters,” freshman Tiffany Day says. 

Tiffany  moved into the dorms Tuesday. She's majoring in digital media with an emphasis in performing arts.

"One day I hope to be a director, or an assistant producer. That's my whole scene,” she says. 

Tiffany says she chose Fort Valley State University– a Historically Black College– because it was important to her identity and education.

"I went to a predominantly white high school and– for me– I always felt like an outcast. I wanna feel like I belong somewhere, like a family,” she explains. “Fort Valley just really did that for me. It made me feel like I wasn't just a number.”.

Betsy Morales is also a freshman and  going to major in chemistry.

"It was a great decision in my opinion [going to Fort Valley],” she says. 

Morales says she chose Fort Valley because she loved how happy people looked and she wants to make her family proud.

"I'm first generation to graduate high school, and go to college, and I like to inspire my own siblings. I want to make my parents proud because they've done so much for me, and I want to do so much more for them,” Morales explains. 

Timothy Hatchett says he believes the university will only continue to grow in the coming years.

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