College enrollment surging | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 9, 2010

College enrollment surging

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 4:26 PM

The University of Arkansas today reported a big surge in enrollment this year — the biggest one-year increase in 64 years — following reported increases at other colleges public and private. Lottery scholarships get some of the credit. But don't forget reports earlier this summer that college enrollment nationwide was hitting record levels because of a growing number of Hispanic students, a choice of college over jobs because there were no jobs, and continuation of a long trend of growing college-age population.

Nonetheless, more is more, as the full dorms and auxiliary housing around the state attest.


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Preliminary figures show that for the fall 2010 semester the University of Arkansas has posted its largest numerical enrollment increase since 1946. A total of 21,406 students were enrolled on Sept. 7, the 11th day of classes, when the state requires universities to take an enrollment “snapshot.” This number represents an increase of 1,557 students from last year, a 7.8 percent increase. This is the largest percentage increase since 1975.

The largest single increase is in the freshman class, which has 3,810 full-time and part-time degree-seeking students, a 30.5 percent increase from fall 2009. Total undergraduate enrollment stands at 17,247 students, up 8.9 percent, while graduate enrollment totals 3,771 students, a 4.3 percent growth.

Of the undergraduate students who are new to the campus, 26.5 percent are transfer students, slightly up over last year.

“This remarkable growth shows what a very exciting time it is to be a part of the University of Arkansas,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “Our admissions team, headed by Suzanne McCray, is doing a marvelous job, and the dramatic growth of our student body really represents many hours of very hard work that has been accomplished by our faculty and staff to make the University of Arkansas a first-rate institution. This is a place where students feel welcome and where they know they will get a great education. The University of Arkansas is becoming the institution of choice for thousands of students.”

“Watching the numbers come in over the last several months has been an intense experience for all of us,” said Suzanne McCray, vice provost of enrollment services. “Everyone in enrollment services is delighted at the outcome. They should be proud as well. They have done an excellent job.

“Our recruiters spent almost 12 weeks each this year out on the road sharing with students and their parents the many opportunities available at the University of Arkansas. As soon as students applied, we had dedicated staff reading applications and letting students know if they were admitted as quickly as possible. The financial aid office and scholarship offices have spent many late hours disbursing needed and hard-earned support including the Arkansas Challenge Scholarships so that most students had their funding before the first day of class. The registrar’s office is doing everything possible to make the transition from high school, or from another college, as smooth as possible. The graduate school staff has also done a tremendous job, which is reflected in the increased number of graduate students.

“And we have all been working in partnership with faculty, the real stars of the show, who meet with students while they are still in high school and then mentor and instruct them when they arrive,” she said.

The Arkansas Challenge Scholarships, funded by the Arkansas State Lottery, appear to have had a significant impact on University of Arkansas students. More than 4,000 students received Challenge scholarships; over 1,800 of these are new freshmen, 583 received the scholarship last year and will receive it again this year, 300 are non-traditional students and nearly 1,300 are Current Achievers, students who were enrolled in the University of Arkansas last year. 

The state of Arkansas requires institutions of higher education to report enrollment figures for students who are registered on the 11th day of classes. The enrollment numbers are not officially due to the state until Oct. 13, and there often are minor differences between the 11th day “snapshot” and the final enrollment numbers.

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