Focus and Higher Education

Local college, university enrollment increases noted

August 23, 2013
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Students are descending on local college campuses, some in record number. Several West Michigan colleges are anticipating increased enrollment in incoming freshman classes and most are offering new programs of study. Additionally, schools shared information about what areas students are arriving from and how this year’s numbers compare to 2012-2013.

Final enrollment numbers will not be available until September and all numbers included are preliminary counts or best estimates.

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University

Kendall is expecting this fall’s overall enrollment to remain unchanged from last year with a total of 1,461 undergraduate, graduate and high school dual-enrollment students.

Kendall is projecting an increase in its freshman class from last year, with 197 new incoming freshman students.

“We are excited to see a 5 percent increase over last year’s final headcount of new incoming freshman students,” said Sandy Britton, director of enrollment management. “Last year, only 5 percent of the incoming freshman class were out-of-state students; this year, 13 percent come from out-of-state.”

Kendall also notes significant growth in several programs including medical illustration, collaborative design, digital media, fashion studies, graphic design and industrial design.

Collaborative design, fashion studies and medical illustration were introduced last year. For 2013-2014, Kendall will add printmaking, starting this fall.

Calvin College

Calvin College projects total enrollment of 4,050 undergraduate and graduate students, with 1,005 of them being first-time students. That is an increase of 40 total students from last year and an increase of 30 first-time students.

“The increase in enrollment in 2013-2014 is a reflection of the overall involvement and engagement the Calvin community is having with prospective students,” said Matthew Kucinski, media relations manager. “Faculty, staff, alumni and current students have all played important roles in this endeavor. The ReCommend One program that was introduced in recent years is one of the efforts that embodies this idea of the entire Calvin community working together to share their Calvin experience with prospective students.”

Kucinski said it is important to note that the overall academic quality of this year's incoming class is strong. Calvin will have a strong mix of in-state, out-of-state and international students this year, as well.

“Roughly 48 percent will be from Michigan, 41 percent from other states and 11 percent from outside of the U.S.,” Kucinski said.

According to the most recent Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education, Calvin ranks fifth among baccalaureate institutions for the number of international students. Current Calvin students hail from 55 countries, 46 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces.

Kucinski noted that demand for the engineering program is up significantly, and Calvin is gaining momentum with its public health major, added in 2012, and its speech pathology five-year bachelor's to master's degree, which was introduced in 2011.

Grand Rapids Community College

GRCC said it expects to see 3,700 incoming freshman students this fall.

“Our degree-seeking population for this fall will be close to 17,000 students,” said Eric Mullen, associate dean of enrollment management. “Our annual unduplicated head count, including non-degree programs, is close to 32,000.”

Mullen said of GRCC’s total students, 74 percent are in-district (within KISD), 25 percent are from in-state and approximately 1 percent come from out of state.

“By the time the semester begins, we will likely be down between 3 and 4 percent from last year,” Mullen said. “We have been seeing a small decrease in our enrollment over the last several semesters. We consider it a re-sizing after seven-plus years of record enrollment growth.  

“Our recent declines are likely attributed to improvements to the economy and students and their families considering more expensive institutions than previously, and the loss of state and federal funding programs that were targeting adult and returning student population to retrain and gain a new credential.”

Areas where GRCC is seeing strong growth are in its health and its culinary arts programs, which continue to exceed capacity.

Aquinas College

Aquinas College expects to welcome 455 new freshman students this fall; total undergraduate enrollment is estimated at 1,683 students. Those numbers are a decrease from last year when 518 freshman students joined the campus and undergraduate enrollment reached 1,728.

Aquinas administrators said last year’s higher freshman class numbers were a result of the addition of two new sports: bowling and men’s hockey.

Aquinas students from out-of-state make up 8 percent of the student population, with 92 percent coming from in-state.

Paula Meehan, vice president for enrollment and strategic planning, noted that Aquinas continues to see growth in all of its science programs and in its sustainable business program.

Meehan also said that the academic profile of this year’s freshman class is the highest the school has seen in 10 years.

Grand Valley State University

GVSU said it is expecting a record freshman class this year.

“Last year, we had 4,005 first-time students, and we expect more than that this year,” said Mary Eilleen Lyon, associate vice president for news and information services.

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