Incoming freshman class second largest in EMU history
Eastern Michigan University has enrolled the second largest entering freshman class in its 166-year history.
The University has enrolled 2,857 first-time freshmen, close to the previous all-time record for freshmen of 2,872, set in 2013, according to final enrollment figures.
This year's class also tops last year's first-time freshman enrollment of 2,552, which was Eastern's third largest class in a decade. The entering class continues Eastern’s momentum in recent years, in which it has led the state of Michigan’s 12 other regional public universities in terms of freshman enrollment growth. Since fall 2010, when the University enrolled a total of 2,008 new freshmen, the entering class has grown by 42 percent.
The entering freshman class also displays improved academic preparation and further growth of The Honors College, and it spotlights even greater levels of diversity to be found on Eastern’s campus.
"Our freshman enrollment growth underscores the fact Eastern Michigan University offers an exceptional learning environment,” said Kim Schatzel, interim president, provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs. “In recent years, we have invested in key academic and student facilities and increased financial aid while setting the pace for tuition restraint in Michigan. Those factors, coupled with our excellent faculty and the connection our students enjoy with their instructors, are attracting more and better academically prepared students to Eastern.”
Kevin Kucera, associate vice president of enrollment management at EMU, noted that entering freshmen and their parents often reference Eastern Michigan’s high quality academic programs and facilities, combined with an affordable tuition rate, as significant factors in their selection of Eastern.
“The 42-percent gain in the size of our freshman class over the last five years is quite remarkable, particularly when you note the significant and continuing increase in the ACT composite score of each new class,” Kucera said. “This has created a tremendous amount of excitement and vitality on EMU’s campus.”
Higher GPAs and ACT scores
In addition to near record numbers, this year's incoming freshman class is better prepared academically. The average GPA of incoming freshmen is 3.26, up from 3.05 in 2010. In addition, the number of enrolled freshmen showing a GPA of between 3.5 and 4.0 has increased 10 percent from last year and the number of students with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.49 has increased 21 percent.
Average ACT scores are also climbing. This year's freshman class has an average ACT score of 22.06, trending very positively from an average of 21.03 in fall 2010.
The entering freshman class also shows increasing diversity at Eastern. The number of newly enrolled African American freshmen, 656, represents 23 percent of the entering class, while the number of newly enrolling Hispanic freshmen, 183, makes up 6.5 percent of the entering class. The number of African Americans in this freshman class is an increase of 28 percent over last year’s class, while Hispanic students show a 37 percent increase. New Asian freshman students grew by 40 percent as well.
The entering freshman class continues Eastern’s tradition of being one of Michigan’s most diverse campuses. While comparative figures are not available yet for this fall, last year Eastern’s undergraduate enrollment of African American students ranked second among the state’s 15 public universities, while in 2012-13, the University’s graduating undergraduate class consisted of 14 percent African Americans, also second in the state.
"These distinctions are important, as they clearly indicate that the diversity of our campus is a major priority for Eastern, and an attribute we consider necessary for a high quality education," Schatzel said.
Honors College growth
The Honors College, which accepts students entering with typically at least a 25 ACT score and 3.5 high school GPA, has more than doubled in freshman enrollment since 2011. This year, The Honors College enrolled more than 450 students in its freshman class, with a record 1,600 students in the overall honors program, an increase of 5 percent from last year’s record overall total.
This fall, The Honors College will move into a new location, the former Holy Trinity Chapel on West Forest Street, on the eastern end of campus. The Honors College is now located in historic Starkweather Hall.
Rebecca Sipe, director of The Honors College, noted that the college continues to experience success for both present students and recent graduates.
“Our graduates have moved on to medical schools, law schools, other graduate and professional schools or exciting, successful careers,” Sipe said. “In addition, our current student retention and overall grade point average are exceptional. We are excited about our upcoming move to new facilities, which will support expansion of programming and interdisciplinary collaborations from across the campus."
More students living on campus
The increased enrollment has also meant more students living on campus. University residence halls and apartments are hosting more than 3,800 students this semester, up from 3,240 in 2010.
Reasons cited for the increased enrollment at Eastern include:
- EMU has set the pace in Michigan in terms of limiting tuition, registering the second lowest dollar increase of the state’s public universities over the past seven years. With tuition and mandatory fees of $10,417 for an incoming freshman, Eastern remains the third lowest – 13th – among Michigan’s 15 public universities.
- This year, Eastern increased University-sponsored financial aid to students by $4.7 million, nearly 11 percent, over the previous year. Over the last eight years, Eastern's financial aid has risen by about 127 percent, from $21.4 million in 2007-08 to more than $48.5 million in 2015-16.
- Students on University tours are taking notice of the $90 million Science Complex, completed in 2012, which serves as the centerpiece of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education at Eastern.
- Over the last seven years, Eastern has continually reinvested in improving its academic facilities and residence halls, along with upgrading classroom technology. This past summer featured extensive improvements to Rackham Hall, which houses health-related programs. Along with the Science Complex, Eastern's $220 million, five-year capital plan included academic facility enhancements, housing and dining renovations, and improvements in campus safety and security, IT infrastructure, classroom technology and athletic facilities.
- Eastern has also invested in more advising services, including increasing staff and opening the Francine Parker Advising Center in the Student Center two years ago, and opening an additional financial aid walk-in center in McKenny Hall this past summer.
by Geoff Larcom
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