The number of students taking classes at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University dropped this fall, though both institutions tout an incoming class with strong academics.
UT’s fall enrollment numbers, released Tuesday, show a headcount of 20,579 students, down from 20,648 in the fall of 2016. BGSU’s student count fell at both its main campus and its Firelands site near Huron, Ohio. Officials tallied 19,331 total students, down 2.4 percent from last fall’s 19,812.
Last year was the first time UT saw fall semester enrollment growth after five years of decline. President Sharon Gaber said she had hoped for another increase this fall, but she is “happy that we’re holding steady.” The fall tally includes 16,194 undergraduate students and 4,385 graduate and professional students, versus 16,247 and 4,401, respectively, in 2016.
“Our game plan is to look at everything, to go back to our strategic enrollment plan and see what worked well and see what didn’t work as well as we would have liked,” Ms. Gaber said. “Last year we saw that we can grow, and we will continue to work toward that.”
Despite slightly lower enrollment, UT saw an increase in its first to second-year undergraduate retention rate for the fourth consecutive year, from 74.1 percent to 74.5 percent. The academic marks of the incoming class also improved, with an average ACT score of 22.9 and GPA of 3.42, compared to 22.7 and 3.36 in 2016.
“People are always looking to see who you’re bringing in, so that’s a positive,” Ms. Gaber said.
BGSU saw the bulk of its decline at its Firelands campus with an 8.9 percent drop. Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning, said new student enrollment was up by 14 percent at that site, but a strong economy in the area has caused the overall student count to dip.
“It’s out in Huron, Ohio, which has a fairly low unemployment rate right now,” she said.
BGSU’s graduate student count fell 4.1 percent, which Ms. Castellano attributed to the nationwide trend of declining international student enrollment.
One area where enrollment grew was online. Officials tallied 638 online learners this fall versus 457 last year.
BGSU’s Class of 2021 has the highest average GPA in university history at 3.43, and the number of students with an ACT score of 27 or higher and a GPA above 3.7 is up by 20 percent over last year’s freshman class.
Owens Community College’s enrollment also fell, from 9,512 students tallied in the fall of 2016 to 8,826 counted this year. That continues the school’s enrollment decline since the fall of 2009, when 23,606 students flocked to Owens for training and education during the recession.
Despite the drop, Owens officials said this year’s count exceeds the 8,581-student fall enrollment target developed more than a year ago. Officials came up with that goal by looking at high school completion rate data, unemployment figures, and enrollment trends.
Lourdes University, a private Catholic university in Sylvania, also saw student numbers drop.
The fall count there this year is 1,258, down from 1,359 in the fall of 2016. The university did see a six percent increase in new undergraduate students, but a large graduating class in 2016-17 offset those enrollment gains, officials said.
Spokesman Helene Sheets said Lourdes is now offering classes at 6:30 p.m., along with its traditional 8 p.m. class times, to better serve working adults.
Mercy College of Ohio saw its numbers grow, reaching a record enrollment this fall. The Catholic school, which focuses on health care and health science programs, counted 1,416 students, up from 1,355 last year.
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