Young Harris College recently welcomed its largest-ever entering class comprised of 437 freshmen. Fall 2012 marks the largest enrollment in the history of the College with 1,035 students on campus, continuing a trend that began in 2007 of steadily increasing enrollment figures.
"We are thrilled to welcome the largest freshman class in Young Harris College history as we also break overall enrollment records for the sixth consecutive year," said YHC President Cathy Cox.
The previous freshman enrollment record of 406 set in Fall 2008 was surpassed by more than 30 students this fall, and the current overall enrollment represents a 17 percent increase from Fall 2011. Since the transition of YHC to a four-year institution began in 2006, the College’s total enrollment has increased by 72 percent.
“YHC is carrying a lot of momentum right now, and prospective student interest has really skyrocketed as we’ve come into our own as a four-year college,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management and External Affairs Clint Hobbs, ’88. “We have far exceeded our enrollment goals for this year, and I could not be more pleased with our success.”
The academic year officially opened with the annual Academic Convocation on Aug. 14, and the College was buzzing throughout the week as new and returning students enjoyed an exciting lineup of Welcome Week activities, including a barbecue, a comedian, live music on the lawn and a variety of community service events.
On Aug. 12, a new tradition was introduced at YHC as first-year students hiked from the top of Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain peak in Georgia, down to campus, where they were greeted by faculty and staff members. This experience will serve as a bookend for another key tradition—the annual senior trek to the top of Bald Mountain prior to Commencement, where all graduates, their families and College faculty and staff gather for a Vespers Service at sunset.
“To mark our students’ entrance into the campus community, we invited them to ride to the top of the mountain and hike down to campus, entering the ‘Enchanted Valley’ and inaugurating their YHC experience,” explained Interim Vice President for Student Development Bryan Hayse, Ed.D. “This was a very meaningful event for our new students, who will look back on their memories of this experience in four years when they graduate from YHC.”
This month, Young Harris College also opened a second phase of its popular new upperclassmen apartments in "The Village," adding another 100 beds to accommodate growing enrollment. The College plans to begin construction on new freshman housing this fall as it continues to move toward its enrollment goal of 1,200 students.
Since earning its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 2008 to grant bachelor’s degrees, Young Harris College has been adding baccalaureate majors and academic programs at a rapid pace. As of 2012, YHC now offers 16 baccalaureate majors—art, biology, business and public policy, communication studies, English, early childhood education, history, mathematics, middle grades education, music, music education, outdoor leadership, psychology, religious studies, Spanish and theatre—as well as a full array of minors and teacher certifications.
In addition, Young Harris College has more than doubled the size of its faculty in the last five years and hired additional staff to support the new academic offerings and student programming.