While Central Michigan University’s freshman enrollment figures fell by more than 10 percent this year, other nearby universities are seeing significant growth in their classes.
Eastern Michigan University enrolled freshmen for fall 2013 in record numbers. Its record-setting 2,872 freshmen marked a 43 percent growth in size over the past three years.
Western Michigan University also reported an increase, with 5.1 percent more freshmen this semester, up to 3,362 from last year’s total of 3,198.
“Our dramatic growth in enrollment over the last two years, in which we are bucking state and national trends in declining freshman enrollment, demonstrates Eastern Michigan’s continued commitment to keeping costs down while increasing financial aid and investing wisely in key academic and student facilities,” said EMU President Susan Martin in a news release. “As we grow, we remain focused on our primary mission, which is to offer students an outstanding, connected academic experience that prepares them for today’s competitive job market.”
EMU has also seen a dramatic increase in first-year undergraduate students, comprising of freshmen, transfer students and those looking for a second degree. First-year undergrads grew by 2.6 percent, from 5,076 students last year to 5,210 in fall 2013.
“There’s something about the EMU atmosphere,” EMU Student Body President Desmond Miller said in the release. “We have a vibe that no other school can match. Once you set foot on the campus, everyone makes you feel welcome. Faculty, staff and students are all friendly, personable and love the campus, and that rubs off on you.”
EMU cited several reasons for its growth. By keeping tuition low, investing in new facilities, and improving residence halls, it says, the Ypsilanti university has maintained a steady incline in enrollment numbers.
CMU’s incoming freshman enrollment numbers fell this year by 11.4 percent, from last year’s total of 3,345 to fall 2013’s total of 2,963. Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Steven Johnson said a state-wide reduction in high school graduates and stiff competition from other schools contributed to the decline.
“We can hypothesize about the shrinking high school market, family economics that require students to stay close to home, more robust financial aid programs at some universities, and high-demand programs such as nursing that CMU does not offer,” Johnson said in a news release.
Despite CMU’s shortcomings, the nearby Grand Valley State University saw a modest 3-percent increase from 4,005 last year to 4,124 new freshmen on campus for fall 2013.
Michigan State University reported a planned 3.7-percent drop in its freshmen ranks, down to 7,842 this year. Senior Associate Director of Admissions Mike Cook said the reduction was planned by MSU’s administration.
“Each year we set targets, and this year we lowered out targets,” Cook said. “It generally has to do with the overall size of the university, student demands and the quality of education.”
And as CMU continues to grapple with a declining student body, University President George Ross was optimistic that standards have been maintained and the university has had to make minimal job cuts.
“This is the cyclical nature of higher education,” he said. “At the same time, we must continue to move forward. We hired 151 new faculty this year. We deliver more than 200 excellent academic programs to our students. CMU will overcome this.”