Tech's Enrollment Tops 7,000
by Marcia Goodrich, senior writer
With well over 7,000 students, enrollment is at its second-highest point since 1983.
Data reported to the State Budget Office on Wednesday, Sept. 7, show total enrollment at 7,031, a 1 percent increase over fall 2010's official figure of 6,976.
Female enrollment is up for the sixth straight year to an all-time high of 1,837, or 26.1 percent of the student body.
Graduate enrollment increased approximately 5 percent, with a record 1,303 students seeking master's and PhD degrees, up from 1,256 in fall 2010. "We broke through 1,300 for the first time and processed 3,000 applications, another record number," said Jacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School. "Graduate enrollment continues to increase in accordance with our strategic-plan goal of having 3,000 grad students by 2035."
"Of our on-campus enrollment, growth is strongest among international students, and we are very pleased that students are drawn here from all over the world to pursue a graduate degree," she said. Many are self-supporting or are supported by their employers or home countries, she noted. "They provide an economic boost both to the University and to the local community."
Another area of growth is distance learning. The number of students seeking a graduate degree online is up markedly, from 58 to 106.
Undergraduate enrollment is up as well, with 5,728 students compared to last year's 5,720. The number of new first-year students grew from 1,115 to 1,161, an increase of approximately 4 percent. The freshman class will also include more women: 288 as compared to 273 in 2010.
In addition, the academic credentials of the entering freshman class are up for the sixth straight year, with a record-setting average ACT composite score of 26.4, compared to last year's 26.1.
"Smart, adventurous students want to study with other smart, adventurous students," explained John Lehman, assistant vice president of enrollment services.
The enrollment count also reflects the fact that more students are staying at the University. The retention rate from undergraduates' first to second year of study has risen to 83.3 percent, approximately 2.5 percent higher than 2010's 80.9 percent.
The COMPASS program employs a variety of strategies to improve student retention. "Our orientation program helps new students acclimate to the community and learn about the resources that can make them successful," said Director Susan Liebau. The office offers special services for transfer and commuter students, along with the ExSEL program, which combines leadership development with tips for improving academic performance.
In addition, the University tracks first-year students' mid-term grades and has stepped up efforts to reach out to those who are struggling. "That's been one of our most effective efforts to ensure the success of students," Liebau said.