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Colleges, Universities Competing More Than Ever for Students

May 10, 2011 - WALB - Darton College got approval Tuesday to become a four year college.


It can offer limited four year programs, beginning with nursing. The change should help Darton grow at a time when more students than ever are applying to colleges and the competition for those students is getting tougher. With tuition rising and state funding shrinking, colleges are looking for new ways to attract all the students they can.


It's things like what Darton College accomplished Tuesday, being able to improve their programs and offer students more choices, that keep them competitive and get students to come to a campus like this.


Different colleges, similar programs, it makes it difficult for a student to choose. Just take nursing for example.


"I came from Georgia Southwestern and they have a good program too, but by me staying in Albany it was more convenient because I used to drive and hour to go to Georgia Southwestern," said Beatine Butler, A Darton Nursing Student.


So Beatine Butler transferred to Darton College and the potential for a four year degree now levels the playing field and creates more competition for students among schools with a nursing program. Sometimes for students it's the little things.


"There are teachers that I love here, as well as other faculty that it just seems like they're interested in our future," said Paris Straughter, A Darton Nursing Graduate.


Schools like Albany Technical College know that, they added a basketball team four years ago to improve the student experience and entice students to their campus.


"That was an initiative that we started a few years back to give students more of a collegiate experience," said Pamela Heglar, Albany technical College Executive Vice President and Vice President of Student Affairs/Enrollment Management.


There's no question schools value their students and want to keep them in their classrooms.


"We want to keep the classrooms full and not have to lay off anyone or do any kind of reduction," said Heglar.


Students can mean more money to a technical school or college from the Board of Regents, but the deeper we dug we found it's also their rate of growth, their number of faculty, the square footage of facilities, and the faculty mix that also weigh in to how much a school gets from the state.


"The state pays a percentage of the enrollment, and the student's tuition pays the remainder, student tuition and fees and we're able to keep a portion of those funds to run the college," said Heglar.


With tuition increasing this year as much as $36.00 to $106.00 a semester depending on where you go, plus extra fees, students are expecting more for their money and looking for just the right fit.


Albany Tech told me they actually survey students to find out how they're learning about their campus, and they found out a students choice is based on word of mouth and how successful a schools graduates are.


College presidents across the state have been scrambling to raise private money to help offset tuition increase and cuts to HOPE as a way of enticing students to their campus with scholarships.


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