Bainbridge State College is seeing several positive trends in its student enrollment, according to Dr. Rodney Carr, the college’s vice president of Student Affairs.
Carr spoke to a large audience at the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon, “Chamber Connect,” which is the successor to the Chamber’s monthly breakfasts.
Over the past two years, student enrollment has increased by 18 percent and 15 percent, over the previous year’s numbers. The double-digits growth continues even after Bainbridge State instituted tougher requirements for recipients of financial aid.
Whereas Bainbridge State has traditionally been considered a home for adult “back to school” learners, and still is, the average age of enrolled students is getting younger: there were 562 students aged 18-19 in Fall 2014, compared with 445 in Fall 2013. The students also have more ethnic diversity than years past.
The number of high school students enrolled in the college’s Accel / Joint / Dual enrollment programs increased from 161 to 202 this past Fall. That’s good for both the college and the students.
“Kids who go through our Accel program are three more times likely to graduate from Bainbridge State than students who did not,” Carr said. “The tuition for Accel students is fully paid for by Georgia’s HOPE scholarship.”
For the students, in addition to earning college credits and being exposed to the college learning environment, they also save money. One of the requirements for HOPE scholarship students is that they are limited to 127 course credits in which they can use HOPE for. However, that “HOPE clock” doesn’t apply to joint enrollment students, so they can essentially earn extra credits under the HOPE program and be further along toward their degree.
Carr said Bainbridge State College’s newly enrolled students continue to have higher scores on the ACT and SAT college placement tests. Bainbridge State has a program that guarantees admission to the University of Georgia if students come to Bainbridge State first and maintain a certain grade point average. Similar partnerships are being worked on between Bainbridge State and the University of West Georgia, Valdosta State University and Georgia Southern University, Carr said.
One trend that is concerning to Dr. Carr and others is that while the number of students who make it past fall semester to spring semester is increasing, only about 43 percent of students who are enrolled in fall semester of one year are still enrolled the following year’s fall semester. There are multiple reasons for the trend, and one positive reason is that more students are completing their associate’s degree and moving on to other four-year schools.
Beyond that, Bainbridge state officials have designed and implemented “an intentional plan” aimed at reaching out to students who are having trouble with their college classes, in an effort to help them be successful.
Those efforts include making peer mentors available in classrooms, setting up closer relationships between advisors and at-risk students, providing free tutoring to all students and encouraging students to become more connected to the college through clubs, activities and student employment.
“We monitor student data in various ways that can let us know when a student is missing lots of classes or making bad grades,” Dr. Carr said. “Our faculty members send out emails on struggling students to our advisors, who call and email the student to discuss what they may be going through. Even if the student ignores the calls and emails, the advisor will find them outside their classroom and talk in-person. All the students need to know is that someone cares how they are doing.”
Special Guests at Chamber meeting
There were two groups of special guests at Tuesday’s Chamber meeting. They were the Raymond Miles Youth Leadership Class, sponsored by the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce; and City of Bainbridge officials.
The Bainbridge High School and Grace Christian Academy students who are part of the Youth Leadership Class were at the Chamber luncheon as part of a day-long field trip. They also toured Meridian Holding Group’s facility at the Decatur County Industrial Park, they visited Bainbridge City Hall and also went inside the Decatur County Courthouse.
Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby introduced several City of Bainbridge division heads in attendance, including Bainbridge Public Safety Director Eric Miller, BPS Assistant Director Frank Green, Public Services Director Steve Winburn, General Administration Director Lisa Taylor. Also present were Amanda Glover, executive director of the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority, Communications director Julie Harris and Bainbridge City Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer.
Chamber of Commerce News
New Chamber of Commerce members include Rose City Outdoors, Brock’s Tree Service, Kelly’s Creations and More, Cook’s Appliance Service and C & B Wireless.
Harrison also reminded everyone about the 2015 River Town Days festival, scheduled for March 13-14. Friday night’s concert will feature Fly By Radio, a band that plays rock favorites from the 1980s and today, and Saturday afternoon’s concerts will feature Americus, Ga., country singer Brandon Vann as well as a bluegrass band, Midnight Rain.
Other events hosted in conjunction with River Town Days include the second annual “Flames on the Flint” barbeque competition, the Lake Seminole Bass Open fishing tournament, a 5K run and a kids’ bike race.
Upcoming Bainbridge Chamber events include a Feb. 19 ribbon cutting at C & B Wireless on Shotwell Street at 10 a.m. and a Bainbridge Young Professionals Social at Bainbridge Pharmacy on February 19 at 6 p.m.