Student enrollment increases, retention rate reaches highest in years

Annie Furia and Annie Furia

Among a trend of increased student enrollment, the University has reached its highest retention rate in years, with the 15-day enrollment report showing 77.52 percent retention for last year’s freshmen.

This is a significant increase from 75.9 percent in 2014 and 70.2 percent in 2013.

Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning, said the University has taken steps to increase retention. These include engagement of faculty with students, comprehensive academic advising, early intervention with new students such as linked courses and admitting a solidly academically prepared class.

This year’s freshman class is also the most academically prepared class in the University’s history, Castellano said. The freshmen in fall 2014 had a 3.32 average GPA and an average ACT score of 22.70. Though the average ACT score this year has dropped slightly to a 22.6, the average GPA has increased to 3.36.

“Those couple tenths of a fraction, they do matter,” Castellano said.

Research has shown that high school GPA is a good indicator of retention, she said.

The total number of freshman at the University’s main campus is 3,392, a 12 percent increase from last year’s number of 3,033.

According to the 15-day enrollment headcount, total enrollment for both campuses has increased 1.7 percent, though Firelands enrollment decreased by 1.3 percent. Castellano cited the improving economy as a possible reason for the decline, but also pointed out that freshman enrollment at Firelands had increased about 10 percent.

New buildings and renovations are also a part of bringing in new students, she said.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigations crime lab on campus, which teaches students in addition to providing services to Ohio’s criminal justice agencies, has taken the undergraduate forensic investigations program from 37 students in 2014 to 65 this year, compared to zero students in 2012.

The aviation program has seen a slight increase in enrollment since the Bowling Green Flight Center opened after University privatized parts of the program, Castellano said, but she expects to see the real impact in fall 2016.

“Those are things that families are looking for (and) students are looking for,” she said of the continuing renovations around campus. “They want you to be innovative, and I think Bowling Green is answering that.”

The graduate college has seen an increase of 5 percent in enrollment compared to fall 2014. Michael Ogawa, dean of the graduate college, said the emphasis on professional master’s programs and increased graduate recruitment have contributed to this.

Professional master’s programs are designed to “directly enable (graduate students) to be advantaged in their professions,” Ogawa said.

Many of those in professional master’s programs are either practicing professionals or those who have had jobs before and are returning to school for more training, Ogawa said.

Fall 2015 freshman class by the numbers:

* 3,392 total students

* 12 percent increase from 2014, or 359 more students

* 3.36 average GPA

* 22.6 average ACT score

* 72 percent from outside of northwest Ohio

* 28 percent from northwest Ohio

* 20 percent are from multicultural backgrounds

* 32 different states represented, including Texas, California and one student from Alaska

* 21 different countries represented by international students