Fall Semester Enrollment Reaches Milestone of 14,125
JONESBORO – Enrollment for Arkansas State University reached another milestone for head count at 14,125 thanks to a record number of graduate students, concurrent high school students and the opening of Campus Queretaro in Mexico.
While the 14,125 exceeds last year’s 14,085, the number of students in two important components – international first-time undergraduates and first-time domestic undergraduates – was down, resulting in a lower full-time equivalency (FTE) enrollment for A-State.
“We appreciate the rise in concurrent, online and graduate students, plus the addition of our new students at Campus Queretaro in our overall numbers, but we must recognize that the number of traditional incoming first-year students declined, and this is a problem we need to address,” Arkansas State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said. “We will need to examine the financial impact of a lower FTE count, and begin working together to better manage all the aspects of our overall enrollment mix.”
Arkansas State’s total student FTE dropped 327.2 students to 9,779.5 for fall 2017 after 10,106.7 last fall. Full-time equivalent is a formula designed by the state to fund universities, and accounts for the difference among head-count students related to their full-time or part-time status.
The fall 2017 enrollment included new records for the number of graduate students, 4,336, which broke last year’s record of 4,246. As a part of the record number of graduate students, A-State set a new record for total doctoral students with 291.
As a group, the 1,427 first-year students in the Class of 2021 reset the mark for the most academically prepared class with an aggregate 24.0 ACT and a cumulative composite high school grade point average of 3.56. The best previous incoming ACT was 23.9 in fall 2014, with previous top high school GPA of 3.51 in fall 2015.
“I’m excited for the Class of 2021 and the potential they bring to our university,” Damphousse said.
The number of high school students seeking college credit through A-State is a new record with 663, up 43 from last year’s 620.
“These are students who can join us as member of the Class of 2022 or 2023 when they graduate from high school, and we are very pleased they have selected A-State to get a head start on their undergraduate studies,” Damphousse added.
Nationwide, enrollment for international students has declined dramatically, and A-State was no different with almost 75 percent reduction in new international undergraduate students, dropping from 124 first-year internationals last year to only 34 in the Class of 2021. Overall international graduate enrollment also dropped 14.6 percent to 245 students.
“The reduction in the number of international students is not a surprise, nor unique to Arkansas State – it is a problem nationwide,” Damphousse said.
Along with a drop in domestic freshmen, A-State was also down in retention of first-year students from last year’s class.
“The number of first-time students and the number of students retained are the core constituencies of a university,” Damphousse said. “This is where a simple phrase like ‘Every Red Wolf Counts’ has to find its true meaning. We will come together with solutions to make sure every student knows that we have a place for them at A-State. And every student that chooses A-State gets every opportunity to flourish and complete their academic aspirations at Arkansas State.”
Damphousse emphasized that he was looking to the campus for collaborative solutions.
“We are intensifying our work through the previous Chancellor’s Enrollment Committee to address the incoming students, and I will soon announce members for the new Chancellor’s Commission on Completion,” he said. “The completion commission will focus on ways to improve not only the first-year but all of our retention measures. Our goal is to help every student complete their degree.”
“As we move forward, we have to be aware of the impact of our overall enrollment mix and put together new plans for enrollment management,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Rick Stripling said.
Online enrollment at A-State also rose for this fall with 5.4 percent more graduate students and up 36 percent in undergraduate online students. There were 173 more new undergraduate online students this year compared to last. The growth was significant among in-state students working on the completion of their undergraduate degrees. Total enrollment for online this fall is 3,728.
“One of the misconceptions that we need to challenge is that somehow the growth of A-State Online has taken away from our face-to-face enrollment,” Damphousse said. “The vast majority of our online students are place-bound or need to work in a time-shifted fashion for their degrees. They are students that would never have attended Arkansas State absent the options our online degree programs provide. Having Arkansas’ largest online student body is a benefit not only to our university, but to the citizens of the state who are looking for ways to complete their degrees.”