ECSU sees higher GPAs in fall freshmen


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, July 2, 2018

Elizabeth City State University isn’t just attracting more students for the fall semester; it’s attracting more students with strong academic records, ECSU officials said last week.

Interim ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon told the ECSU Phase 2 Working Group last week that the university is on track to enroll its largest freshman class in seven years.

The university has set this fall’s enrollment target at 600 new freshmen students and 120 new transfer students.

But ECSU is also on pace to enroll more freshmen with higher academic credentials. The average grade-point average for North Carolina students planning to enroll at ECSU this fall is 3.26. In addition, the average SAT score is 969 and average ACT score is 18.

Those credentials are higher than for previous freshmen classes at ECSU.

Among students expected to enroll as freshmen at ECSU this fall are residents of 46 Tier 1 and Tier II counties in North Carolina. Tier I counties, many in ECSU’s 21-county service area, are considered the most economically distressed counties in the state. Tier II counties are considered less economically distressed, while Tier III counties generally have economies that are performing well.

Although most students coming to ECSU are from the 21-county service area, increasingly more students across the state know about the University of North Carolina campus in Elizabeth City, Dixon said.

Dixon said university alumni have done a great job pitching in with student recruitment.

That sentiment was echoed by Althea Riddick, who heads enrollment management for the university.

“I can’t say enough about the National Alumni Association,” Riddick said at the working group meeting.

Riddick said the enrollment outlook for the fall remains very good, adding, “I am confident that we are going to meet our goal.”

One significant factor driving ECSU’s enrollment growth is NC Promise, a state-subsidized tuition discount initiative that takes effect this fall. NC Promise sets per-semester tuition at three University of North Carolina campuses — ECSU, UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina University — at $500 for in-state students and $2,500 for out-of-state students.

But the reversal of the multi-year enrollment decline at ECSU started last fall, before implementation of NC Promise. University officials cite a number of factors contributing to the turnaround.

Riddick said the campus’s Office of University Advancement, headed by Vice Chancellor John Michael Lee Jr., has played a key role. The office helps students facing financial challenges by providing them with funds to fill the gap when their financial aid package isn’t quite enough to make college affordable.

ECSU Trustee Harold Barnes said that by offering students a quality education that is affordable, the university is not only changing students’ lives but also transforming families and communities.