By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 13, 2019
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Valdosta State University Blazers are stepping onto campus in record numbers.
Officials with Valdosta State University announced this week enrollment and student retention rates are up for the first time in several years.
Enrollment at VSU increased by .5% from fall 2018, and retention rates increased by 5%. Valdosta State is one of only two regional comprehensive universities in the state to see this increase.
School officials cited a new advising model helping to keep students on track to graduation.
Vice President of Student Success Rodney Carr said all students had 30 hours with an advisor when they started freshman year. Now they have full time access to an advisor.
Carr said the school has also implemented a 'momentum year,' helping to keep students on track.
He added, retention is a challenge for higher education across the nation, and the first year on campus can be a difficult transition for students. This 'momentum year' helps students map out every semester of a four year plan.
Administrators said when students succeed on campus, it can help raise the bar, making a difference in communities across South Georgia.
"The rural parts in the state of Georgia, we're seeing where education truly counts," Carr said. "So we're focusing our efforts, not just on recruiting new and incoming students, we're doing that. But we're focusing a lot of our efforts on retaining the students that we have."
The university is also investing in more activities outside of the classroom, like a new game room. Staff said, students who get involved and attend at least ten events per semester are far more likely to reach that degree.
Valdosta State officials said they are now working on developing programs that make it easier for people to come back to school later in life, like night, weekend and online opportunities.
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