Enrollment is up, reverses trend

RISING+TIDES%E2%80%94NMU%E2%80%99s+10th+day+enrollment+report+released+on+Sept.+10%2C+shows+positive+strides+from+previous+years+with+contributing+factors+of+growing+freshmen+classes%2C+new+programs+and+marketing.+Sam+Rush%2FNW

RISING TIDES—NMU’s 10th day enrollment report released on Sept. 10, shows positive strides from previous years with contributing factors of growing freshmen classes, new programs and marketing. Sam Rush/NW

Jackie Jahfetson

The 10th day enrollment report is in, and the good news is: NMU’s undergraduate and graduate headcount is up by 1.8% from last year. 

NMU has run a successful campaign in recruiting new freshmen, and with the 10th day enrollment report, it finally feels like the university has turned a corner, Chief Marketing Officer Derek Hall said. Though it’s an ongoing process, everyone is satisfied but guarded to make sure those statistics continue to excel, he added. 

“We’re very excited to have an overall increase especially in today’s demographic climate. It shows we’re doing things well, more students are returning and more students are coming especially graduate online,” Hall said. 

Over the past two years, NMU has had a surge in its freshmen classes, and that is one of the biggest contributors to the overall headcount increase, Director of Institutional Research and Analysis Jason Nicholas said. Even though this year’s freshmen class was slightly below last year’s numbers by 7 students, previous classes makeup for that deficit. 

With 7,732 students enrolled this semester, graduate and online enrollments have also shown growth especially the new first-time graduate rate coming in with a 63.4% increase. The high numbers can be credited to new admission and marketing tools and NMU should see positive outlooks come 2020, Nicholas said. 

“It keeps a lot of our programs filled up with students and healthy, and it keeps the university’s finances stable. It gives us a better foundation that we can plan forward from. There’s a lot of benefits,” Nicholas said. 

Programs such as medicinal plant chemistry played a part in spreading the Northern word, and that willingness to explore program options on campus is what will continue NMU’s success and it provides more flexibility in brainstorming new ideas to provide services to students, Nicholas said. 

“When you’re in an environment where the university is in decline as it was a few years ago, there were different operations that happened at that time and it makes it a little more difficult to make decisions and plan for resources,” Nicholas said. “This allows us to have better resources to provide students and services that they need to be successful.”

New first-time transfer students are down by 14% from 2018, but compared to 2017, the rates continue to show positive growth. NMU’s Global Campus online program enrollment counts show a 108-student growth rate, or 26% overall headcount. 

The graduate population was up almost 18% with 90 more total graduate students and 71 more first-time graduate students. There’s so many different areas on campus that contribute to NMU’s success, Nicholas said. 

Hall acknowledged Northern’s ability to maintain those strong freshman class numbers and hopes that increase will prosper for years to come as those freshmen classes move through. 

“When it comes to enrollment, everyone across campus is involved. The student-life area, the faculty and when we did orientations, it’s the feeling families get when on campus. It’s the grounds people, the janitors, people everywhere; we’re all part of that recruitment team.” 

This positive news will also be helpful with future enrollment with the increased number of high school seniors, Hall said. 

“It’s a competitive market for those 17-year-olds that come of college. Once we can get someone on campus, our chance of having that student enroll jumps tremendously,” Hall said. “We’re in a sweet place in Marquette.” 

NMU has improved on targeting incoming students and catching their attention and that strategy will come in handy for the future, Hall said. 

“We’re a very welcoming campus and community, I think that plays a ton into it,” Hall said. “I talked to a parent this summer and she said, ‘NMU wasn’t even on our list of schools, and one day a [NMU] postcard showed up [with] a waterfall. My daughter saw that and all of a sudden NMU was top 2.’” 

The new renovations also have attracted newcomers, and Hall hopes all of these factors will pay off come Wildcat Weekend in October.