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GPC enrollment swells with help from non-traditional learners, dual enrollees - Dunwoody Crier: News

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GPC enrollment swells with help from non-traditional learners, dual enrollees

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Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 5:35 am

Naomi Norelli is a 26-year-old Conyers mom studying biology and psychology. Savannah Smith and Taylor Lewis are 16-year-olds studying biology and pre-nursing, respectively. The ages might be a decade apart, but the students represent two of the largest student demographic populations at Georgia Perimeter College.

According to the Fall 2013 Board of Regents Enrollment Report, GPC has the largest in-state population of nontraditional and dual enrollment students among all 31 University System of Georgia institutions.

Norelli is one of almost 4,900 nontraditional undergraduate students enrolled at GPC— students who have either come back to college after a long hiatus or started college at least a few years after high school graduation. Lewis and Smith are among the more than 1,000 dual enrollment students at GPC who are taking high school and college courses at the college.

The individuals reflect the vast diversity of Georgia Perimeter College’s student body, a diversity further demonstrated at GPC’s commencement in May, when the oldest graduate was a 76-year-old grandmother and the youngest was a 17-year-old high school student.

Serving students such as Norelli, Lewis and Smith is integral to Georgia Perimeter’s mission of providing an affordable and accessible college education, says Rob Watts, GPC’s interim president. “GPC is very accessible to students either on campus, online, or both, and we are very affordable for traditional-age students and working adults.”

“I chose GPC because of the flexibility—I can take classes and work, and I have a 21-month old child,” Norelli says. “Plus, I love the science instructors here.”

Norelli started online classes at Georgia Perimeter when her son was 3 months old. She intends to transfer to Georgia State University after she completes her course load this spring.

Her plans reflect another truth revealed in the regents’ report: GPC continues to be the No. 1 transfer institution in Georgia, preparing students such as Norelli to move seamlessly to four-year state institutions.

GPC’s robust dual enrollment program attracts high school students who seek to get ahead on their college education. Lewis and Smith enrolled in GPC’s Move On When Ready, a program that allows them to complete high school and their associate degrees within a college environment. The two girls heard about the program while ninth-graders at Alcovy High School in Covington.

GPC’s dual enrollment program draws students from across the Atlanta metro area—from Johns Creek High School in Alpharetta to Lithonia High School. 

“There is nothing I would change about this—I love it here,” says Smith.

The large numbers of dual enrollment students, nontraditional students and transfers represent three of the high points in GPC’s enrollment report this year. Another is that GPC leads the state in the number of freshmen it serves.

Overall, however, GPC’s enrollment has dipped to 21,123 students this year from 23,619 in 2012. Enrollment in the university system as a whole fell as well, with 309,500 students attending USG institutions this fall, compared to 314,365 last year.

GPC is actively working on ways to increase enrollment. According to Watts, “GPC is reviewing its recruiting, retention, marketing and IT strategies. Our objective is to raise enrollment 5 percent for next fall.”

© 2016 Dunwoody Crier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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