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Nicholls recruits, retains higher caliber students

THIBODAUX – According to preliminary enrollment data for fall 2011, the academic caliber and commitment of students at Nicholls State University is increasing.

Elkins Hall

Retention of first-time freshman students is 70 percent, exceeding the GRAD Act requirement of 68.1 percent. Moreover, the average ACT score for first-time freshman students is 21.7, exceeding the national average by 0.6 points and the Louisiana average by 1.6 points.

Total enrollment is expected to be down 200 students from fall 2010, but administrators say the dip comes as no surprise.

Several factors have contributed to the preliminary enrollment figure, all of which indicate compliance with the state’s higher education goals as well as the healthy economy of the Bayou Region, administrators say.

Nicholls students are progressing toward their degrees faster, as evidenced in the increased number of graduates for the last three years, the highest number of graduates per year in the school’s history. Also, data indicates a fall 2011 enrollment increase of more than 200 students at Fletcher Technical Community College. The total enrollment shows that Fletcher and Nicholls are working together to ensure access to all students in the region.

“This is good news, because we are encouraging partnerships between four-year and two-year institutions in Louisiana,” Dr. Laynie Barrilleaux, vice president for academic affairs, said. “Gov. Jindal has in fact singled out Nicholls and Fletcher as the model for such partnerships, and these preliminary numbers validate that designation. More and more students are beginning their college education at Fletcher, and, hopefully, will later transfer to Nicholls to complete their four-year degrees.”

Another factor contributing to the preliminary enrollment numbers is the regional economy, Larry Howell, executive vice president, said.

“Research shows that when the economy is suffering, university enrollment peaks,” Howell said. “Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes have largely been immune to the growing unemployment figures in the state, so we fully expected that fewer people would apply for admission at Nicholls.”

Still, Nicholls awarded 43 high school valedictorian scholarships for fall 2011, surpassing last year’s figure by 13 and the previous year’s figure by 19.

“We are clearly meeting the state’s goals of academic excellence,” Barrilleaux said, “The academic caliber of our student body is growing stronger, and we are confident that Nicholls will continue to be the university of choice in the Bayou Region.”

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