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Arkansas State University's Fall 2011 Enrollment at All-time Record


Arkansas State University today announced an unofficial fall semester enrollment of 13,920 students at the Jonesboro campus (that are countable by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education-ADHE) plus 300 full-time international students enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) for a grand total of 14,220 students, the highest number recorded in the institution’s history. ASU clearly is now well-positioned as the second largest institution of higher education in Arkansas.

The increase in students that are countable by ADHE represents an increase of 505 students, or 3.8 percent, compared to the final fall 2010 enrollment numbers.  The new fall semester record represents significant increases in the enrollment of international students and students enrolled in graduate-level programs (especially master’s degree programs in education delivered by distance learning).

Dr. Dan Howard, interim chancellor, indicated that the enrollment record was particularly significant as it occurred simultaneously with across-the-board increases in undergraduate admission standards and selective increases in graduate admission standards. He emphasized the positive impact of higher admission standards on an array of objective statistical measurements related to student success.

“Among other things, the average ACT profile of students has increased, the average high school GPA of entering students has improved, the freshman to sophomore retention rate has increased, the six-year graduation rate has gone up, the number of students graduating in the top 25% of their graduating class has grown, and the number of students enrolled in the Honors College has expanded,” he explained.  “In the meantime, two other numbers in which a reduction is related to success have gone down -- the number of students needing remediation in math, English, and reading and the extent of remediation that these students require to enter and succeed in academic programs at the university.”

Howard also stated that it is expected that the student loan default rate at ASU will decline as students who are successful in college and enter the globally competitive workforce as alumni tend to obtain professional positions that have salary and fringe benefit packages that enable them to pay student loans at rates higher than those individuals who are not successful in college.

Further, Dr. Howard stated that the increase in enrollment at ASU combined with the higher quality of students and greater success potential should help the university meet Governor Beebe’s goal of doubling, by 2025, the number of academic degrees earned by students enrolled at institutions of higher education in Arkansas.

ACT Average and Retention Rate Move Up
The average ACT score of entering freshmen has increased by 7.5 percent over the past three years, to 22.8 in 2011.

Further indicators of the university’s progress in academic quality are reflected by retention and remediation statistics.  The freshman retention rate this year rose to 71.4 percent, an increase of 5.2 percent in just two years.

During the same period, the percentage of first-time freshmen requiring some amount of remedial coursework has dropped 27.2 percent, from 48.5 in fall 2009 to 35.3 this year.  By subject, the number requiring remediation has dropped 42.2 percent in English and reading, and 32.6 percent in mathematics.

Two other significant measures of increased quality of the student body due to tightened admission standards is a substantial increase in the number of students enrolling in the Honors College and a higher overall ACT average among incoming freshmen.  The number of freshmen in Honors grew by 25 percent to 239 this year; the total number of students in Honors is 769.

The increased quality also is having a bottom-line impact at ASU.

“We expect that more selective admission requirements will increase graduation rates as these higher-performing students move through their undergraduate programs,” Dr. Howard explained.

The total number of diplomas awarded during the last academic year was 3,546, which was 32.8 percent higher than the record set in 2010.  The latest six-year graduation rate is 40.2 percent, which is 15.5 percent better than the number reported a year ago.

Faculty and Staff Cited
Dr. Howard credited numerous departments, faculty and staff on campus for their excellent planning and coordination of efforts to move all enrollment indicators in a positive direction, especially:

Undergraduate Enrollment: Dr. Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for Student Services; Dr. Beverly Boals Gilbert, dean of Continuing Studies and Community Outreach; Tammy Fowler, director of Admissions; Tracy Finch, registrar; Rebecca Oliver, director of the Honors College; and Terry Finney, director of Financial Aid and Scholarships;

Graduate Enrollment: Dr. Andy Sustich, dean of Graduate School; Pam Struttmann, director of recruitment and enrollment management; Pam Heath and Vickey Ring, graduate admissions specialists;

Large-Scale Distance Learning Enrollment: Dr. Lynita Cooksey, associate vice chancellor for Academic Services; Dr. Mitch Holifield, chair, Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Special Education; and Robin Harmon, coordinator, Large-Scale Distance Learning;

International Student Enrollment: Tugrul Polat, executive assistant to the chancellor for International Relations; Chandni Khadka, coordinator of International Admissions; and Can Erdogmus, coordinator of international agency relationships and logistics.

Dr. Howard stated that one of the hallmarks of ASU is the special warmth, kindness, and courteousness of the staff towards one another, other employees, students, and visitors.

“This not only makes ASU a wonderful place to work, but it adds a special value to those whom the university serves,” he emphasized.

He also underscored the central role and importance of the faculty in providing a caring, challenging, and supportive educational environment that is critical to recruiting the best and brightest students and helping them survive and thrive while at ASU and in the knowledge-based economy upon graduation.

Recruitment Strategies
Dr. Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, commented that the fall 2011 enrollment has several significant elements, as previously cited by Dr. Howard.

“Recruitment strategies require planning a year in advance, and in some cases two to three years,” he explained.  “Today’s outcome is the result of careful planning and joint efforts by several offices.  These efforts, under the vision and leadership of interim chancellor, Dr. Dan Howard, are milestones in a long-range growth plan outlined in the university enrollment management plan.”

The final enrollment for the fall semester will be reported to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education in mid-October.  The previous enrollment record was the fall 2010 enrollment of 13,415.

Graduate-level enrollment stands at 3,794, which is up by 430 students compared to last year, for an increase of 12.8 percent.  Graduate student enrollment includes 3,213 students enrolled in master’s degree programs, 209 enrolled in specialist degree programs, and 231 enrolled in doctoral degree programs.

Enrollment Highlights
Total current international undergraduate and graduate headcount stands at 773, which reflects an increase of 198 students, or 34.4 percent.  ASU has enrolled an additional 300 students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, thus raising the total number of international students to 1,073, an increase of 104, or 10.7 percent, over fall 2010.

The total undergraduate headcount is 10,126, compared to 10,051 a year ago.  Undergraduate student enrollment includes 8,069 enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs and an additional 512 in associate degree programs.  Because of the tightened admission standards, the number of new freshmen actually went down by about 200.

ASU’s highest enrollment by college is the College of Education, with 4,266 students enrolled.  This college saw an increase of 454 students (11.9 percent) since fall 2010, mostly attributable to distance learning programs.  The second-largest college enrollment is Nursing and Health Professions, with 2,294 students enrolled.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences recorded the second highest gain in headcount with 1,165 students, up 65 students or six percent from fall 2010.

The largest college increases, percentage-wise, were recorded by Engineering, 19.4 percent, and Agriculture and Technology, with 13 percent more students.

Arkansas students comprise 77 percent of the student body, 17.4 percent are from other states, and 5.6 percent are from other countries.

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