by Geoff Larcom, Published September 20, 2011
The number of entering freshmen beginning their college experience rose significantly at Eastern Michigan University this fall, increasing by more than 6 percent from last year's total, and the entering class also showed improved academic performance.
EMU welcomed a total of 2,130 new students on campus, up from last year's total of 2,008. Overall new student undergraduate enrollment, which also includes transfer students, dual enrollees and guests, rose by approximately 1.3 percent.
Applications from new students also rose sharply, increasing 24 percent from last year. Overall, 12,682 new students applied to EMU this year.
In addition, entering students displayed better academic performance on both their ACT score and their high school GPA. The average ACT score increased from 21.02 to 21.10, and the average GPA rose from 3.06 to 3.10. The number of new students entering EMU with high school GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0 rose by 16 percent.
EMU's overall enrollment stands at 23,341, which is down slightly by 0.69 percent from last year. The decline is reflected in fewer new and returning graduate students. EMU's student retention rate remained at just over 76 percent, an increase of five percent from two years ago.
"The increase in new students shows the continuing appeal and vitality of our academic programs and faculty, the investment in our students through our financial aid program, as well as the affordability of EMU," said Bernice Lindke, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. "In addition, the campus has undergone extensive improvement in its classroom facilities."
Eastern has led the state of Michigan's 15 public universities in tuition restraint the past three years. Last year, EMU held tuition and fees flat, and this year increased tuition by only 3.65 percent or only $306 for a student taking 30 credit hours year.
Eastern recently reopened its largest and busiest classroom facility, the Pray-Harrold Building. The $42 million project includes a new, glass-encased student commons area, infrastructure and HVAC improvements, improved technology capability, renovated auditoriums and classrooms and improved ADA access.
Work continues on EMU's self-funded $90-million science complex, the largest project in campus history. Last winter, EMU opened the addition to the Science Complex, which includes a suspended planetarium and new labs and research space. Upgrades were also made to residence halls and other buildings this past summer.
Other details regarding EMU's new students include:
Over the past two summers, EMU has made significant investments in its residence halls. This summer, wireless locks in the First-Year Center of Walton, Putnam, Phelps and Sellers halls were replaced at a cost of $780,000. In addition, the entrance canopies and stairwell and Center Lounge curtain wall glazing were also replaced at a cost of about $1.6 million.
The Dining Commons One, which services Best, Wise, Downing and Buell residence halls, was also refurbished at a cost of $286,000. In the summer of 2010, EMU replaced the windows in the First-Year Center at a cost of $3.1 million.