First-Year Student Enrollment Up 12%, Total Enrollment Tops 7,000
The bike racks are full, Houghton's rush minute is a few seconds longer, and there's a good reason why. More first-time freshmen are coming to Michigan Tech this fall—and total enrollment is higher—than at any time since 1983.
The numbers are buoyed in part by a boomlet in the number of 2008 Michigan high school graduates. "The increase in incoming freshman enrollment at Michigan's public universities is up about 4 percent overall," said John Lehman, the University's assistant vice president for enrollment services.
Michigan Tech's 12 percent increase, from 1,223 in fall 2007 to 1,365 this year, is driven by more than demographics, however. "Our students tell us they find us because of our academic reputation, the quality of the faculty and our job placement rate. They choose us because of our location and the friendliness of the campus community." Lehman said. "We made a conscious effort to promote our location, emphasizing recreational opportunities and the small-town atmosphere. In addition, we have targeted our financial aid at students who both need it the most and are most likely to succeed at the University."
Including transfer students, the total number of new undergraduates is 1,580, up 9 percent from 2007. The number of new female students has increased from 341 to 366.
Meanwhile, the quality of new undergrads by standard measures remains strong, Lehman said. The average ACT composite score for incoming freshmen holds steady at 25.6, with a slight increase in the ACT English score, from 24.2. to 24.4.
Enrollment in many bachelor's degree programs is up substantially, particularly environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, exercise science and computer science. New programs in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts are also a draw for students, Lehman said.
Total undergraduate enrollment is on the rise as well, up 3 percent to 6,033, due both to the surge in new students and a continued strong retention rate. And the number of graduate students is also up 9 percent, from 900 in 2007 to 981, hiking the University's total enrollment of both graduate and undergraduate students by 276 to 7,014, the highest in 25 years.
Since 2004 total enrollment at the university has grown by 468 students, over 7 percent. On-campus enrollment has increased by 14 percent, or 843 students.
"Our 2006 enrollment plan set the goal of 7,000 students by 2010. Beating that goal by two years is an indicator of this institution's vitality," President Glenn D. Mroz said.
Jacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School, credits in part more-intensive recruitment efforts for the fact that more students are coming to Michigan Tech. In addition, faculty research has attracted more outside support, providing better funding for many students. And a new University policy has resulted in hgiher stipends for students who have completed their course work and exams, making graduate education more attractive and affordable. This new policy makes it possible for faculty researchers to support additional numbers of students using the funding received from external sponsors.
The number of first-time master's students is up to 155 from 129, a 20 percent increase, with the number of entering PhD students showing a slight decline, from 72 to 67. Female students now make up approximately 31 percent of the graduate population.
"We hope to see the PhD numbers rise," Huntoon said. "Doctoral students are here the longest, do the most research and often make a major contribution to their discipline, so as a group they can make a huge impact on the University’s reputation," she said. "I’d like to see the incoming PhD numbers at around 100 each year."
The graduate program brings in significant numbers of international students, she noted. "Just as the diversity of our domestic students enhances the educational experience for all, our international students contribute so much to the campus and to our community."
Huntoon thanked both the academic departments and staff in the Graduate School who cooperate to assure that graduate students are enrolled early in the fall semester.