First-time freshmen enrollment increases

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Michael Wilson

Winter Keefer

According to NMU’s 10th day enrollment report, after six years of decline, the incoming first-time freshman class has increased 10.8 percent from last year. Retention is also at a record high, with 75 percent of last year’s first-time freshmen returning to campus for the fall semester.

Though incoming freshmen and retention have increased, total university head count is down due to last year’s large graduating class, Director of Institutional Research and Analysis Jason Nicholas said. This was expected due to the pattern of decline in freshmen seen in past years.

“We’ve got many years of smaller class sizes that are working their way through and getting their educations,” Nicholas said. “Hopefully, as they exit the system, we’re filling their class back in with bigger freshman classes.”

Michael Wilson

With a total of 1,501 first-time freshmen this fall semester, this year’s freshman class increased by 146 students in comparison to last year. The total enrollment head count stands at 7,612, a decrease of 1.8 percent.

“It’s going to take a couple years to turn the ship all the way back around, but this is definitely taking a step in the right direction,” Nicholas said. The rise in first-time freshmen will mean more resources available for academic programs in the long term, Vice President of Finance and Administration Gavin Leach said.

“We are able to do more things with academic programs, academic equipment, facilities as enrollment grows,” Leach said.

Growth is not limited to incoming undergraduate freshmen, said NMU President Fritz Erickson in an interview before the 10-day numbers were released. There has also been growth in partnerships with high schools in the area and increased use of the Education Access Network (EAN).

The 10th day enrollment report shows that there are 585 EAN participants and 2,960 people served by community learning programs.“All of these things contribute to the life of the university and create such a positive attitude,” Erickson said.

Erickson said increased interest in NMU can be attributed to multiple factors, including updated dorms and facilities, new academic programs, increased marketing and recruitment initiatives and the overall appeal of the community surrounding Marquette and the Upper Peninsula.

“It’s a function of many, many things,” Erickson said. “It’s a function of overall excitement on campus, in the community and across Michigan.”