by Geoff Larcom, Published September 17, 2013
YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan is the fastest growing public university in the state of Michigan for new freshmen over the last three years.
The University’s fall 2013 freshman class of 2,872 tops Eastern’s previous all-time record of 2,854, set in 1999, and represents an increase of 43 percent or 864 students over the last three years, according to final fall enrollment figures.
No other public university in Michigan has seen its freshman population grow so significantly over the last three years.
For the second consecutive year, Eastern is also welcoming its largest ever overall class of first-year undergraduates, with a total of 5,210 new students. That total includes first-time freshmen, transfer students, students pursuing a second degree and other types of new undergraduate students. This tops last year’s record incoming class of new undergraduates of 5,076 students.
"Our dramatic growth in enrollment over the last two years, in which we are bucking state and national trends in declining freshman enrollment, demonstrates Eastern Michigan's continued commitment to keeping costs down while increasing financial aid and investing wisely in key academic and student facilities," said Eastern President Susan Martin. "As we grow, we remain focused on our primary mission, which is to offer students an outstanding, connected academic experience that prepares them for today's competitive job market."
In addition to record numbers, this year's incoming freshman class is better prepared academically. The average GPA of incoming freshmen is 3.24, up from 3.18 in 2012, and 3.11 in 2011. Average ACT scores are also climbing. This year's freshman class has an average ACT score of 22, up from 21.4 last year and 21.1 in 2011.
The University's Honors College program, which accepts students entering with at least a 25 ACT score and 3.5 high school GPA, has nearly doubled in freshman enrollment since 2011. The University has admitted its largest honors freshman class ever, and has about 1,200 students in the overall honors program.
The incoming class features increased enrollment from Ohio, with 307 students on campus, representing more than a 100 percent increase from three years ago. The record freshman class brings EMU’s total enrollment this fall to 23,317, with students from 79 Michigan counties, 50 states and 71 different countries.
The increased enrollment has also meant more students living on campus. Eastern Michigan this fall is housing more than 3,900 on-campus students, up from 3,240 in 2010 and representing the most students living on-campus since 2003. Final housing totals are reported Sept. 30.
Not only are more students enrolling at Eastern, more are graduating as well. A record number of 2,376 students graduated last spring, an increase of more than 27 percent since 2007.
Student body President Desmond Miller says students at EMU enjoy a special connection with faculty and staff, including President Susan Martin.
“There's something about the EMU atmosphere,” Miller says. “We have a vibe that no other school can match. Once you set foot on the campus, everyone makes you feel welcome. Faculty, staff and students are all friendly, personable and love the campus, and that rubs off on you.”
Reasons cited for the increased enrollment include:
• Tuition restraint. EMU has led the state of Michigan in limiting tuition over the past five years. Of Michigan's 15 public universities, Eastern has the lowest dollar increase during that time. Meanwhile, financial aid to students has increased 80 percent over the last six years, to $38 million this academic year.
• Facilities. Students on University tours are taking notice of the new, $90 million Science Complex, which completed a second phase of construction last year. In addition, Pray-Harrold, Eastern's largest and busiest classroom building, underwent a $42 million renovation completed in 2011.
• Student living. Over the last five years, Eastern has strategically reinvested in improving its residence halls and upgrading classroom technology. This past summer featured extensive improvements to Best Residence Hall, on the eastern side of campus.
• Academic advising. Eastern has also invested in more advising services, including increasing staff and opening the new Francine Parker Advising Center in the Student Center this past summer. The center is modeled after modern technology retail centers, in which roaming advisers in the front area rapidly respond to short inquiries and help navigate students through updated online resources for academic and career planning. A new transfer student advising center has also opened in McKenny Hall. For more perspective on EMU’s record freshman class, please visit http://www.emich.edu/stories/enrollment.php