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Sunday, August 13, 2017

CLA’s incoming freshman class largest since 2009, and a look at trends

You may have read that the University is on track to have one of its largest incoming freshman classes in decades. CLA is part of that enrollment boost. The current estimate is that we will add about 2650 first-year students, which is 200 over our target of 2450 and our highest total since 2009. More of these students are “CLA first choice” students than in previous years, at about 75%. The inspired work of faculty and staff around curricular innovation, instructional excellence, career readiness, and advising and student services has been key to this strong CLA performance.

Comparing overall degree-seeking undergraduate numbers from fall 2012 to fall 2016, CLA was down 474 students, or -3.3%, to about 13,700. Other undergraduate colleges: Design (-61, -4.4%); Education and Human Development (38, 1.6%); Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (37, 1.9%); Science and Engineering (326, 6.0%); Management (250, 10.7%); Biological Sciences (381, 20.8%). Over the past three years we have held the line on any reductions in the size of CLA’s incoming freshman class and incoming transfer student class. Comparing the fall 2014 to fall 2016 number of undergraduates, CLA effectively held even (up 22 students).

On student credit hours (SCH), the college saw steep declines from 2007 through 2013. These were in part due to reductions in the size of incoming first-year classes, but they were also due to shifting interests among students. One sign of the latter was a growth in the percentage of credits taken outside CLA by our students, including those students who were “CLA first choice” students. That can be healthy for students, of course, but it can also indicate there are areas where we need to refresh and reimagine our curricular offerings. Many departments have begun doing the latter. The SCH declines have leveled off, which is good news. Looking at the combined SCH for fall and spring semesters, academic year 2015-16 saw a 1.0% drop from the previous year, and academic year 2016-17 saw a 0.4% decrease from the previous year.