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Nicholls summer enrollment points to growth

THIBODAUX – Nicholls State University enrollment statistics for summer 2008 indicate growth in several categories, especially out-of-state and visiting students.

Out-of-state enrollment increased from 49 last summer to 69 this summer. James Irwin, assistant director of enrollment services, said the 40.8 percent increase can be attributed to a number of factors, including the regional recovery following Hurricane Katrina. In effect, the growth represents an enrollment rebound as life in the Bayou Region returns to normal. Other factors include competitive scholarship opportunities and the strong academic reputation of Nicholls, Irwin said.

The number of visiting students enrolled at Nicholls increased from 69 to 93, a 34.8 percent jump. University officials credit this increase to the adjusted summer scheduling policy, which allows students to complete their classes during two four-week terms and/or one eight-week term. “This format is attractive to visiting students because they can complete their coursework without having to commit the entire summer,” said Courtney Cassard, director of enrollment services.

Other enrollment boosts include a 6.7 percent and 6.0 percent increase, respectively, in sophomore and senior enrollment, resulting in a 2 percent overall increase in undergraduate enrollment, which totals 1,775. A 7.7 percent decline in junior enrollment occurred as well, but Cassard said this is related to Katrina and the beginning of selective admissions at Nicholls resulting in fewer freshmen in 2005.

Nicholls also boasts increases in course loads for summer 2008. The number of undergraduate credit hours increased by 10.5 percent, and the average course load jumped 8.3 percent. Larry Howell, associate provost, said the new summer school format allows students to take more courses. “This is quite appealing to students who wish to graduate in a timely manner,” Howell said.

The new format stems from the March 2008 initiative of the University of Louisiana System presidents to reduce the average number of years it takes for students to graduate from six to five.

In addition, new hybrid courses, which combine online and in-person instruction, have encouraged students to increase their study load, Howell said.

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