Dalton State College's graduation rate continues to grow, up 4% from last year, and it's expected to continue increasing, college officials say.

"Our six-year graduation rate is climbing every year, and we expect that trend to continue as we focus our efforts on retention and completion," said Jodi Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at DSC.

Several factors contribute to the rise in graduation rates, including DSC's variety of degree offerings. The college now has 25 majors, and the newest -- engineering technology and environmental and sustainability studies -- relate directly to local job needs.

"There are a number of efforts related to the Momentum and Complete College Georgia initiatives we believe have contributed to our increasing graduation rates," Johnson said. "We try to expose students to as many of these high-impact practices as possible during the first year. Examples include purposeful choice of major, taking college level math and English during the first year, enrolling in 15 hours a semester, and taking a major field course early in the college career."

A $2.16 million Title V grant was awarded to the college earlier this year, and all of the funds will be used to improve areas geared toward student success.

"While our enrollment has been relatively stable in recent years, the number of our graduates has increased dramatically," DSC President Margaret Venable said. "That is the kind of growth Dalton State is focused on right now. We hope to increase our enrollment also and to draw more students from outside our immediate area, but we are concentrated on producing more graduates who fill the employment needs of our community. I am proud of our progress and of how often I run into Dalton State graduates in our community in all areas of employment."

Fall enrollment is slightly down to under 5,000 students, following a nationwide trend of lower enrollment, according to a report from the University System of Georgia, which was released earlier this month. However, several areas of enrollment are up.

DSC's Hispanic enrollment increased to 31%. DSC is still the only college in Georgia to have achieved the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) federal designation, which is awarded at 25 percent. Georgia Gwinnett College is the next closest to achieving HSI with a Hispanic population of 23.5%.

Dual enrollment is up 4.5% from last year. Many students have been able to receive an associate degree before even earning their high school diploma thanks to this program.

"We are pleased to note the continuing increase in high school students earning college credit, and this fall 41% of the dual enrollment students who graduated high school in the spring of 2019 chose to stay and enroll at Dalton State as full-time students," Johnson said.

Additionally, the enrollment of new freshmen is up 2% from last year.

View the full USG report here: https://www.usg.edu/assets/research/documents/enrollment_reports/SER_Fall_19_Final.pdf.

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