About 1,000 potential Georgia Southern University freshmen whose applications were previously incomplete for lack of ACT or SAT scores can now be admitted immediately under temporary rules that waive test score requirements for students with a high school GPA of 3.2 or higher.
That estimate of approximately 1,000 only includes applicants known to be immediately qualified for fall 2022 admission. It does not include an unknown number of students who applied but for whom the admissions staff had not yet computed their high school GPAs, said Dr. Scot Lingrell, Georgia Southern’s vice president for enrollment management.
“We had about a thousand applications that could be completed when they waived the testing requirements, that were immediately eligible for admission,” he said Monday. “What we are going to find is that there are people out there that we never computed their GPA because we didn’t have a complete application for them.”
The University System of Georgia announced new, temporary admission requirements for most but not all of its colleges and universities March 18, easing the previous restoration of pre-pandemic admissions standards.
The required GPAs are computed on 17 required high school classes. Students with GPAs lower than 3.2, but at least 2.5, could still get into Georgia Southern, but they will need to submit ACT or SAT scores. The usual minimum scores for the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses are 480 reading and writing and 440 math on the SAT or 17 English or reading and 17 math on the ACT.
Fall semester only
The state-authorized waiver of test score requirements is only for fall semester 2022, for which Georgia Southern’s classes will begin Aug. 10. Another group of additional applicants are high school students who have decided to apply since the change was announced.
“Of course, once this happened then we started getting more applications from students that we hadn’t even received yet,” Lingrell said. “So it just keeps growing every day.”
But the number of potential students admitted does not translate directly to the number of first-year students who will actually enroll for fall semester.
For fall 2021, Georgia Southern had 22,130 applicants and notified around 17,000 of them that they had been admitted, Lingrell said. That resulted in the largest largest freshman class ever, 5,430 first-year students as of last fall. In fact, it was the university’s second year of record freshmen enrollment, after 5,247 first-year students the previous fall.
Those numbers were not just records for the current, three-city Georgia Southern, but include historical combined enrollments for Georgia Southern and the former Armstrong State University prior to their Jan. 1, 2018 consolidation.
But GS officials were already predicting that the fall 2022 freshman class will be smaller than last year’s.
“We are not expecting that size of a freshman class even with these changes, this year,” Lingrell said Monday.
For the previous two years, no-test admissions standards were in effect longer and the minimum required high school grade point average was lower, he noted.
Beginning in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Georgia, University System officials realized that students would not be able to take the tests. So for schools in Georgia Southern’s category, the test score requirements were waived for students with a high school GPA of at least 2.5, already the minimum, in required courses.
For fall 2021, this test-free cutoff was changed to a 2.6 high school GPA. But then the university went back to “normal standards” for this spring semester and originally also for fall 2022. For Georgia Southern, this meant that students needed both “appropriate test scores,” as Lingrell put it, and at least a 2.5 GPA.
Differs by category
Since the March 18 announcement, the cutoff for freshman admissions without test scores is a 3.2 GPA – a little higher than a 3.0 or “B” average but significantly less than an all-A’s 4.0 average – for the state system’s “comprehensive” universities, the second-tier category that includes Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State University, the University of West Georgia and Valdosta State University.
Two of the top-tier “research universities,” namely Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, plus one of the “state universities,” Georgia College and State University, still require test scores for admissions. Otherwise, the cutoffs to get in without test scores are a 3.0 GPA for the state universities and a 2.8 GPA for the state colleges, such as East Georgia State College.
Augusta University, in the “research universities” category, has its own, higher cutoff for the exemption.
Even with the past two years’ record freshman classes, Georgia Southern did not set an overall record enrollment for its three campuses. But it did begin growing again after a previous enrollment decline. With this year’s previous restoration of admissions requirements and a long-foreseen national drop in the number of high school graduates coming in 2026, administrators were already working on other ways to maintain enrollment.
“We have already, even in the past, been developing other strategies for admissions, not just the direct from high school market, but adults, transfers, graduate students, military-connected students, dual enrollment, and so it’s a very broad strategic enrollment initiative, not just those freshmen,” Lingrell said.
Georgia Southern was one of just five University System of Georgia institutions that saw enrollment gains in the past two years, he noted.