Early estimates indicate APSU’s enrollment numbers will equal or slightly improve compared to the 2014-2015 academic year. This is in contrast with  Governor Bill Haslam’s recent TN Promise plan which was expected to decrease enrollment in four-year universities in Tennessee.

Haslam’s TN Promise plan offers a tuition-free, two-year degree from community colleges around Tennessee and, as a result, expected to take a toll on the number of incoming freshmen attending four-year universities like APSU for the first two years after his plan was implemented.

APSU is now expected to match previous numbers or experience growth compared to the 1,494 first-time freshmen in 2014.

An estimated 1,500 students passed through the Dunn Center on Friday, Aug. 21, for the convocation ceremony welcoming the class of 2019.

The speakers included President Alisa White, SGA President Will Roberts, Vice President of Student Affairs Sherryl Byrd and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Rex Gandy.

Each speaker offered freshmen encouraging words, helpful hints and an overall feel of the APSU experience.

White was the first speaker to take the podium, and she focused primarily on skills to help students succeed during their college career.“You have a great deal of influence over your life, by how you study, how you work and which friends you choose,” White said. “I’d also encourage you to graduate in four years. You are not the class of 2020 or the class of 2021. You are the class of 2019.”

With the predicted increase in enrollment numbers, APSU did not seem to take the expected hit since four-year universities like APSU still appeal to many students in spite of the TN Promise.

There are different reasons why freshmen choose to attend APSU.

“My family went here, it was cheap enough to come here instead and I just didn’t want to stay in town at a community college,” said freshman communications major Jacks Keith.

Freshman Ricco Person said he chose APSU because of the diverse course options.

“I was going to Tennessee Technical University, but they didn’t offer the courses I needed,” Person said.

Vice President of Student Affairs Sherryl Byrd spoke on statistics regarding the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative.

“The governor is striving to increase the number of Tennessee residents with a higher education credentials to 55 percent by the year 2025,” Byrd said. “That’s only 10 years away. The number right now is only in the 30th percentile. So we have work to do.”

White spoke on the initiative during her faculty convocation address on Wednesday, Aug. 19. White focused on plans to increase enrollment by discussing how the “Drive to 55” would help challenge faculty to keep students learning and increase their desire to graduate with a college degree. TAS