University

CMU’s vice president for enrollment: Spring decline ‘relative’ to last year

Retention rates between the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters at Central Michigan University are consistent with recent years, despite a continued decline in enrollment.

Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Steven Johnson said the spring enrollment figures released last week weren’t a surprise.

Total on-campus undergraduate enrollment fell 3.6 percent, while freshman enrollment dropped 15 percent. That is an even steeper drop-off than enrollment numbers from fall 2012, which recorded freshman enrollment declining 12.4 percent from the fall 2011 semester.

“The numbers as reported were expected based on the number of first-time students who enrolled at CMU for fall 2012, and retention rates remain relatively the same over the last several years,” he said via email.

Johnson called the downward trend “relative,” pointing out the 91-percent retention rate between the fall and spring semesters. In 2012, the retention rate between semesters was 91.2 percent.

According to spring on-campus enrollment numbers obtained Tuesday, sophomore enrollment dropped almost 8.6 percent, while junior and senior enrollment increased by 3.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

“The current spring 2013 numbers for sophomores reflects primarily students who started in fall 2011 – a class that was 335 students smaller than fall 2010,” Johnson said. “The comparable sophomore class of spring 2012 reflects a difference of 340 students.”

The current junior class was CMU’s largest incoming class, which Johnson said makes the upperclassman numbers expected as well.

Johnson also attributed the upperclassman enrollment to the new assistant director of transfer student services position and increased advising services.

Overall, CMU’s enrollment suffered a roughly 3.5-percent loss, bringing the student total to 18,867, which is 680 students fewer than spring 2012. In the fall, total on-campus undergraduate enrollment was 18,686, which means the decline from fall to spring semesters is 181 students, or a 0.96-percent decrease.

The total number of graduate students enrolled is 1,748, which is a 2.2-percent decrease from 1,788 last spring. As compared to fall, when 1,818 graduate students were enrolled, a loss of 70 students, or 3.85 percent.

Although CMU is working on improving its enrollment initiatives, Johnson said these changes take time.

“Many of the initiatives currently being started to address enrollment declines are major undertakings in which change will not occur overnight,” he said.

Entering new, out-of-state markets and evaluating indicators and services provided to students are areas Johnson said would take time.

“CMU has recently joined several universities across the nation as a part of a Student Success Collaborative through the Education Advisory Board,” he said. “Through our participation, CMU will gain valuable information regarding student success.”

The EAB shares best practice research, consulting and technologies among more than 500 institutions in North America, according to the EAB webpage.

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