Northwest Missouri State University announced fall enrollment figures this week in a release stating that the state-assisted school's student population totals 6,831.
The university's latest enrollment census marks the first time in four years that Northwest has not reported a record fall enrollment, which peaked at 7,225 in October 2011.
According to Dean of Enrollment Management Bev Schenkel, members of the current crop of Bearcats come from 46 states and 29 countries.
Schenkel cited the decreasing number of high school graduates across Northwest's traditional service region — as well as statewide — as a major reason for the enrollment decline.
The number of high school graduates from 2011 through 2012 dropped between 2 and 20 percent in northwest Missouri counties, according to Northwest. In Missouri as a whole the number of graduates dropped 3 percent. Estimates predict that the decline will continue through 2014-2015.
"Northwest has enjoyed four consecutive years of enrollment growth, however, we anticipated a decline as we analyzed the number of high school graduates in our region," Schenkel said.
She added that the next several years would likely prove challenging from an enrollment standpoint, but that the institution was "committed to providing a quality education to the state's citizens."
Schenkel said that out-of-state and international recruiting remain critical to Northwest’s growth strategy.
According to the statistics provided by Schenkel's office, the fall 2012 student body comprises 6,014 undergraduates and 817 graduate students working toward advanced degrees. The Northwest freshman class contains 1,287 students, down from last year's record total of 1,498.
Twenty-nine percent of the student body, or a total of 1,950 students, come from outside the Show-Me state, while 4,881 are Missouri residents.
Northwest President John Jasinski emphasized statistics pointing to Northwest's commitment to student success, which the institution has long used as a key selling point.
For example, 70 percent of Northwest freshman complete 24 credit hours with at least a "C" average during their first two semesters of college. This compares with a statewide freshman success rate for "moderately selective" schools of only 44 percent. Additionally, about 69 percent of Northwest's 2011 first-year class returned to the university this fall, which places the freshman retention rate above the national average.
Northwest's graduation rate of 57 percent also exceeds the national average for similar institutions by nearly 20 points, and 95 percent of Northwest graduates report finding employment or gaining acceptance to graduate school within six months of receiving their degrees.
"We are committed to student success at Northwest, and our student completion agenda is what we will continue focusing upon," Jasinski said.
As for diversity, Northwest reported that 999 students, or 15 percent, represent either a domestic minority or come from another country.
The university's minority enrollment is 775 students, or 11 percent of the student body. Total international enrollment is 224 students, or 3 percent. The majority of foreign students come form India, China and Korea.
Two hundred and eight-two students transferred to Northwest from other colleges or universities this fall. About 67 percent of those came from institutions inside Missouri.
Schenkel said the new freshman class has an average ACT score of 22.4, which is higher than the national average of 21.1 and the state average of 21.6. Bearcat freshmen, 69 percent of whom are Missouri residents, carried an average high school grade-point average of 3.33.
By Staff Report
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Staff Report
Updated Oct. 4, 2012 @ 7:30 am
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