Enrollment releases: NMU reports small decline

Cody Boyer

Preliminary enrollment numbers for the winter 2014 semester were released for Northern Michigan University earlier this week, detailing a small decline in  percentage since 2013.

Neiheisel
Neiheisel

On Monday, Feb. 10, NMU released its 10th day enrollment report for the Winter 2014 semester, marking a total headcount of 8,024 students at the institution. The report shows a 2.8 percent decline in comparison to the Winter 2013 enrollment, dropping 227 students from last year’s 8,251 total for the second semester.

“We anticipated the continuation of the fall’s loss into spring and planned accordingly,” Steve Neiheisel, vice president of enrollment and student services, said in a press release posted on Monday, Feb. 10. “Higher education enrollment is declining across much of the state based on several factors, primarily including declining high school demographics as well as improving economics in Michigan.”

Neiheisel also said the numbers released on the 10th day report will increase as it has in previous semesters at NMU.

“It is important to note these are preliminary figures,” Neiheisel said in the press release. “The final count for the semester will be higher because of additional enrollment from classes or programs that haven’t started yet, so it’s too early to compare these numbers with the final count of 8,602 recorded for winter 2013.”

According to NMU Communications and Marketing, the 227-student decline between Winter 2013 and Winter 2014 is not an entirely new group of students but rather includes the 219-student decline already absorbed in the fall semester that just concluded.

During the Fall 2013 semester, the 10th day count tallied 8,879, but increased to 8,918 when the final results for the first semester were released.

While preliminary results typically result in a lower number than the final headcount, director of admissions Gerri Daniels said measuring numbers following the first release of data is valuable to the process.

“It is important to make data-driven decisions and use all means of technology and information sharing in order to reach those who might be the right fit for NMU,” Daniels said. “In doing so, we will continue to provide the best quality service experience that we can, always remembering that at the other end of a post, text, phone call or document, there is a person seeking assistance as they try to make a very important decision.”

According to the press release, student credit hours “increased at the graduate level but decreased overall by 2.7 percent.” The release also said nearly 88 percent of first-time freshmen who enrolled at NMU in the fall semester have enrolled for the winter semester, which details an increase in freshmen retention for the third year in a row.

Brian Cherry, assistant provost of Graduate Education and Research, said, while there has been a small decline in other areas of enrollment, graduate studies have been experiencing increased numbers in certain areas. Cherry also said his department has been working in tandem with NMU to create new programs to aid in the future.

“The overall graduate numbers for fall were positive,” Cherry said.” We would like to see a larger increase and we do expect these numbers grow.I have also been working very closely with deans, department heads, and graduate directors to make sure we are marketing and creating avenues for our current programs to be successful. The Master of Public Administration is now being offered 100% online. This will allow us to target different markets. We also worked with Communications and Marketing to develop some new commercials.”

Cherry also said, while it has not yet been brought before the Board of Trustees for approval, a new doctorate program has been approved to move forward into the next step and will help future graduate enrollment.

“Last year, [the Academic Senate] approved our first new doctoral program,” Cherry said. “[It is a] doctorate in nursing practice [and] we hope this program will be in place by  this fall. We also had three new graduate programs approved by academic senate last week and will be moving towards NMU Board of Trustees approval.”

According to Monday’s press release, student credit hours increased at the graduate level, but decreased overall by 2.7 percent. The release also stated the final fall enrollment for 2013 was also announced at 8,918 students, up from the 10th day count of 8,879.

Final winter semester enrollment numbers are expected to be released by late May or early June.