Freshman class grows while general enrollment drops

Anna Lang

This year’s freshman class increased by 22 students, or two percent, compared to the fall 2012 freshman class.According to Provost Paul Lang, this is not a typical change.

New numbers show that student enrollment at NMU has decreased since 2012. (Kristen Koehler NW)
New numbers show that student enrollment at NMU has decreased since 2012. (Kristen Koehler NW)

“That’s a very good number,” Lang said. “The university is delighted that we had a two-percent increase.”

The university worked with an external consulting group, which gave them suggestions on how to improve enrollment numbers. These suggestions were implemented and played a role in the increase, according to Lang.

Along with the increased enrollment numbers, the academic credentials of freshmen improved. The average ACT score rose from a 22.5 to a 22.9 while the high school GPA average is 3.17, compared to 3.13 previously.

“That’s how we measure how well our incoming class will be doing here at Northern so that’s a positive thing for us,” said Institutional Research Assistant Katie Schoonveld.

A retention program implemented last year has produced a 7.4 percent increase of at-risk freshmen who became sophomores. A student is considered an at-risk freshman if he or she is placed in the college transition program or is on freshman probation, according to Schoonveld.

Lang said the goal of the retention program, which will be run again this year, is to get at-risk freshmen to stay at Northern and obtain a degree.

With an increase of 39 students, or 35 percent, first-time graduate student enrollment is the highest it’s been in five years. The number of transfer students has decreased from fall 2012 to fall 2013. According to Lang, this is a statewide trend.

“Transfers were down across the state and here, too,” Lang said. “We need to pay attention to that because that’s important to us.”

The sum of the changes in the student body equals a total decrease of 219 students, or 2.4 percent. The current student body consists of 8,879 students. This can also be attributed to the large graduating class of winter 2013.

The largest academic program at NMU is art and design with 619 majors. It is followed by nursing and criminal justice with 554 majors and 396 majors, respectively. Elementary education is the fourth-largest academic program with 230 majors.