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Sac State becoming the college of choice for California students

The numbers are in and they speak volumes to Sacramento State's growing popularity among California students. Not only did the past two fall semesters break records for student enrollment, more than half of the applicants were from outside the six-county Sacramento region, according to Ed Mills, vice president for Student Affairs.

"Students have a strong desire to attend Sac State because of our location, welcoming campus and strong academic programs," Mills says. In the fall of 2014, a record 29,349 students enrolled at Sac State and that number increased to more than 30,000 the following year. Proof, Mills says, that attracting students is not what is difficult. "The challenge is figuring out how to accommodate the most students possible," he notes.

Orientation leader Nichaele WatsonGIVING BACK—Los Angeles native Nichaele Watson was enticed to enroll at Sac State after attending a new student orientation. She now serves as a campus orientation leader.

Nichaele Watson, a second-year student majoring in deaf studies, considers herself one of the fortunate ones. When the Southern California native graduated from high school, she had every intention of leaving the state to attend college. That is, until a family friend suggested she consider Sacramento State.

"I really liked what I learned not only about this diverse campus, but about its location in Sacramento," Watson says. "My decision really clicked for me when I attended a new-student orientation. I could tell I'd have an opportunity to connect with my professors and I wasn't going to be just a number."

Observations like these are common for students from around the state, according to campus orientation coordinators. "They come for a tour or orientation and fall in love with the campus," says Shawn Ryan, First Year Orientation coordinator.

Mary Shepherd, assistant director of Academic Advising and coordinator of New Student Orientation, also has seen a shift in the campus becoming more residential.

"Students are making a commitment to move here, so their investment is a little deeper when this is their home base for the next few years," Shepherd says.

Affordability is another key factor.

"When a student considers the cost of living in the Bay Area or in Southern California, the value proposition is better for students looking to stretch their dollars," Mills says.

Watson, who has come full-circle and now acts as a campus orientation leader herself, says she's glad she stayed in-state and in the state capital.
"My choice to attend Sac State has been one of the best decisions I've made."

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