2 Mississippi universities have a record number of freshmen

USM and MSU had their largest freshman classes in history.
USM and MSU had their largest freshman classes in history. Mississippi State University

The University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State are touting historic enrollment that includes their largest freshman classes.

USM said in a press release it enrolled the most academically talented freshman class in its history for the third year in a row. USM said incoming freshmen can tout the highest ACT scores and grade-point averages for the 106-year-old institution. It also had record enrollment at the its Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

The fall 2016 figures include an all-time high of 3,241 students enrolled on the Coast compared with 2,975 in fall 2015. Enrollment increased from 2,898 students in 2015 to 3,162 at Gulf Park.

Figures released by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning showed a total USM enrollment of 14,554 — three more students than the final count last year.

USM exceeded previous levels of freshman enrollment with 1,563, up from 1,527 in 2015, according to the press release.

The median grade-point average for first-time full-time freshmen was 3.33, compared with 3.27 in fall 2015. The average ACT score of new freshmen increased from 22.73 in fall 2015 to 22.94 this year, according to the press release.

“A record number of new students, possessing the highest GPA and ACT averages in recent history, is being driven by the university’s intentional strategic planning for growth, and increasing quality and excellence. These efforts are enhanced by our vibrant campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach,” University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven R. Moser said.

Mississippi State University recorded a total of 21,622 students enrolled for fall, an increase of 749 students from last year, according to a press release. MSU reported a record 3,624 first-time freshmen, up 153 from last year.

The university said the average first-time freshman ACT score of 24.4 matches the previous high from 2014.

“This is an exciting time in MSU history,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “We are growing in many positive ways, including broader degree partnerships, international collaboration and life-changing research and development initiatives.”

The university experienced growth in its colleges of architecture, art and design; business; forest resources; veterinary medicine; and engineering.

This year’s record enrollment includes 778 international students, according to the press release.