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Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2012

KU enrollment falls, but freshman class grows for first time since 2008

Kansas University Students walk on Jayhawk Boulevard past Lippincott Hall on Thursday. Fall enrollment numbers show a 2.7 percent decline in overall enrollment but a 5.3 percent increase in freshman enrollment.

Kansas University Students walk on Jayhawk Boulevard past Lippincott Hall on Thursday. Fall enrollment numbers show a 2.7 percent decline in overall enrollment but a 5.3 percent increase in freshman enrollment.

September 27, 2012, 2:46 p.m. Updated September 28, 2012, 9:18 a.m.

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Kansas University’s total fall enrollment fell for the fourth straight year in 2012, but officials said Thursday that the university’s incoming freshman class suggested improvement in the future.

According to figures released by the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday, the university’s total enrollment fell to 27,939, a drop of about 2.7 percent from 2011. Combined enrollment on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses dropped 3.42 percent to 24,577. That decline was partially offset by a 2.8 percent increase in enrollment at the KU Medical Center to 3,362.

The incoming class of freshmen increased in size for the first time since 2008, following an effort by KU leaders to reverse declining enrollments that included the introduction of new four-year renewable scholarships for incoming students.

“We’re kind of turning the corner,” KU Provost Jeff Vitter said Thursday.

As of the 20th day of class this semester, the new freshman class numbered 3,771, an increase of 5.3 percent from 2011. The class also set KU records for average ACT score at 25.1 and for racial diversity, with minority students making up 21.3 percent of the total.

A big problem where total enrollment is concerned is that KU’s biggest class ever — the freshmen of 2008, who numbered nearly 4,500 — began to graduate in 2012, leaving a big hole to fill.

Vitter said he hoped the university’s total enrollment would come close to breaking even in 2013, as the larger incoming group from 2009 begins to graduate and the smaller 2010 and 2011 classes remain. But he said he hoped for the number to increase by 2014, with enrollment approaching the 30,000 mark in about four years. That’s near where the number topped out in 2008.

“As we continue to increase the freshman class, we’re going to see those numbers turn around and then go up, which is our goal,” Vitter said.

Vitter said the larger freshman class, as well as its improved academic chops, could be attributed to an increased focus on recruitment as well as the new renewable scholarships. And he said he expects classes to continue to grow as that effort continues.

The new freshman class also set a record for high school grade-point average, said Matt Melvin, KU’s vice provost for enrollment management. That bodes well for future enrollment numbers, he said, because it indicates the class will have good retention rates.

He said the smaller incoming classes of 2010 and 2011 would continue to pull down total enrollment numbers in coming years, though.

“It just takes some time,” Melvin said.

Overall, Melvin said he was pleased with the 2012 figures. His focus is on increasing the number, the quality and the diversity of students, he said.

“I call it the holy trinity of enrollment management,” Melvin said.

Another contributor to the decrease in total enrollment was a drop among graduate students of about 2.7 percent. Melvin said much of that decline occurred in the master’s programs in business and education at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park.

Vitter said that plans to revamp MBA programs, among other developments at the School of Business, would help in that area in coming years.

“We have a stellar faculty, we’ve got a dynamic new dean, great momentum,” Vitter said. “We’re going to make some interesting announcements very soon.”

Some of KU’s schools did experience enrollment growth. The School of Engineering increased its incoming freshman class by 22 percent and its overall enrollment by about 7.8 percent. The School of Nursing grew by 11.3 percent, and the School of Pharmacy by 6.7 percent.

And the incoming freshman class in the School of Business more than doubled as it shifted to direct admission for freshmen. Its total enrollment grew by about 2 percent.

Altogether, fall enrollment at Kansas public universities dropped by 0.15 percent. Kansas State University added the largest number of students, 515, bringing it to a total enrollment of 24,378. Fort Hays State experienced the highest percentage of growth, adding 508 students to grow by about 4 percent.

Outside of KU, the Regents institution to experience the biggest enrollment drop was Johnson County Community College, which lost 590 to fall to a total enrollment of 20,443. Community college enrollment fell by a small percentage statewide, though it increased by 13.4 percent at the Regents’ six technical colleges, which have a total enrollment of about 6,000.

— Kansas University reporter Matt Erickson can be reached at 832-6388. Follow him at twitter.com/LJW_KU.

Comments

Run4More 1 year, 6 months ago

"According to figures released by the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday, the university’s total enrollment fell to 27,939, a drop of about 2.7 percent from 2011. Combined enrollment on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses dropped 3.42 percent to 24,577. "

I believe the article needs to be edited as well. This statement doesn't make sense. The enrollment at the Lawrence campus is 24,577 with a combined enrollment at both campuses at 27,939.

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oldbaldguy 1 year, 6 months ago

I hope things have really changed. My kid graduated in top 10 Lawrence High with a 3.98 GPA, 32 ACT and lettered in a sport and band. KU offered a $1K non renewal scholarship. Never recruited her. She went to a private out of state school on essentially a full ride and graduated second in her class. That was 11 years ago.

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SnakeFist 1 year, 6 months ago

  1. I'd like to see a breakdown of student numbers by gender. Women already outnumber men, are these recent enrollment reductions across the board or limited to a particular gender (perhaps, for example, even fewer men are going to college).

  2. I have degrees from both KSU and KU and own houses in Manhattan and Lawrence. KU and Lawrence offer far more research, employment, and healthy (i.e., non-drinking) recreation opportunities and a much better lifestyle. Furthermore, KU and Lawrence are closer to both Topeka and KC, which offer even more opportunities.

  3. The charm level of your student guide when you visited campus should be irrelevant to your decision. Frankly, there is very little you will see on a campus visit that is relevant to which school you should attend. You ought to look at, for example, the publications and research of the professors in your desired department rather than the aesthetics of the campus.

  4. I agree with the person who said KU does not seem to like non-traditional students. But I assume that's true at most schools.

  5. There may be some overlap in the Lawrence and Edwards campus enrollments. Biology, for example, rotates several classes out to Edwards, which forces some Lawrence students to take them there (and, of course, pay the separate campus fee).

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Shardwurm 1 year, 6 months ago

Let's see...a 2.7 percent decrease in enrollment should equal about an 8 percent increase in tuition next year. Plus the University needs to hire more teachers who only have high school diplomas to teach the large freshman class - there aren't enough of them already.

Increase pay to professors who don't teach, and put all books in .pdf format and sell them for $80.

Yep...sounds like a plan!

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chootspa 1 year, 6 months ago

Or maybe the tuition hikes and bad economy have combined to the point where kids would rather go to a cheaper college or just hold off on going back to school.

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somedude20 1 year, 6 months ago

That's what I like about them freshman girls, I get older, they stay the same age

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Hardhawk1 1 year, 6 months ago

I have two degrees from KU and have been a local coordinator for the KU Honors Program for over 20 years in a rural Kansas area. KU acts like it does not give a hoot about kids from rural areas. I have tried to point out the problems, even being frank with the last chancellor directly about it. No change. KSU acts a lot more interested in the quality students from our area. The scholarship process is a joke. Kids here need all the help they can get. KU low balls the rural kids then will add money later if there is competition. One year our valedictorian ended up at KSU because they offered her more money. She had wanted to go to KU. When KU called her right before school started, she told them she was going to KSU. When KU asked why, she told them about the significantly better scholarship offer at KSU. KU responded that " we would have matched that offer". It was too late. Make your best offer up front and don't low ball the rural kids you think are bumpkins. My own child is a freshman somewhere else this year. One of the reasons was that KU had the wrong amount of scholarship based on his ACT score. We kept trying to tell them that they had a lower amount shown than what he should have had based on his high ACT score. They never seemed able to get it right. He has a full ride out of state so no 3rd generation Jayhawk in this family. When the state cuts funding I have no desire to contact my legislators about it because KU just does not seem interested in Kansas kids. My second child could easily end up at KSU in 4 years if KU continues its attitude toward high quality rural Kansas kids. That would just kill me but unless KU starts realizing they are blowing it and acts interested it may well happen. It is sad.

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obamasocks 1 year, 6 months ago

We fall in rankings, we fall in numbers. Enough said.

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Sharon Nottingham 1 year, 6 months ago

Economy could be a factor. But ku needs to focus on the student tours on campus. We chose kstate for our lawrence grad, and they had an awesome welcome and student tour guide who was funny, entertaining, and thoroughly answered our questions.

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dfybaby21 1 year, 6 months ago

Just going to speculate that the amount of arrogance in this room probably has a lot to do with the free fall in enrollment at ku. Look, if ku wants to become more stringent, I get that. Nothing wrong with wanting to raise the bar. But lets not act like ku and KSU haven't had the exact same Regents criteria for admitting Kansas kids, because they have until the recent change (see links below for facts. I know, facts are boring, but they are facts). Lawrence does have more out of state students. Probably due to those tougher admit standards, right? And I was wrong yesterday for stating that Manhattan enrollment had surpassed Lawrence enrollment. That'll happen next year, but that 200 student difference is negligible. Again, maybe if ku people didn't look down at the entire rest of the state for meeting the same college acceptance criteria, then they wouldn't have an issue. Unless they want to limit enrollment, which is entirely possible, I suppose.

http://admissions.ku.edu/apply/requirements/freshmen/

http://www.k-state.edu/admissions/apply/#p=apply%2F

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konzahawk 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't care if enrollment takes a hit, as long as students continue to increase their ACT scores and are better prepared for the rigors of an AAU university. When the new admissions standards are implemented, we will, most likely, see an even bigger drop in numbers. Kansas State College will become the largest school in the state because they will continue to take anyone with a pulse.

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down_the_river 1 year, 6 months ago

Even though KU decided several years ago to start hiding the Lawrence campus enrollment totals, once you sort through the information on the Edwards Campus, the numbers show through. It appears there are nearly 1,000 (946 actually) fewer students at the Lawrence campus compared with last fall.

We're still 4 years away from the reduction in enrollment planned with the selective admission initiative. That restriction is expected to drop 750 freshman from each incoming class. Without a concerted effort for student recruitment, there may be a need for more aggressive early retirement buyouts in order to shrink the staff and the operating budget.

Is there a significant reason KU has decided not to release numbers of enrolled students at the Lawrence and Edwards campus separately? If it's a concern for the K-State numbers surpassing our campus, well that's already happened, so there is no need to pretend. Let's be proud of being a great university for Kansas, and stop playing games with enrollment and tuition numbers.

1

shorttrees 1 year, 6 months ago

Recruiting freshmen is a no-brainer, and finally caring about transfer students from Community Colleges may be a start, but KU still ignores adult education, especially here in Lawrence.

Make it possible for an adult to finish their education while working. Have classes that count toward the degree at times when working adults or parents can actually attend. Make it possible for people to get additional degree or course work that facilitates career changes, and quit acting like anyone outside the traditional student mold is there to leech off the system.

Oh, and while you're at it, quit acting like parents are simply cash machines who exist only for the university's benefit. As a former student and former employee of KU as well as an alumni parent I'd be the first to say the problems are systemic and will probably never be fixed--it would require common sense which we all know isn't common.

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atiopatioo 1 year, 6 months ago

KU can still out recruit basketball players. The nice thing is they all have phones.

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Machiavelli_mania 1 year, 6 months ago

  • Scholastics at KU is falling as well. But hey, sports is up! What more do lawrenceites need anyway?

  • Lawrence prices are terribly inflated, while the overall wages are among the lowest in the country, Why send your kid to school here? I can't find a reason.

  • Lawrence rental prices are outrageously inflated. It is wise to buy a cheap house here and then sell it once your child is done with college. I think it would be cheaper. Property income is rising in Lawrence. Somehow and strangely, the housing bubble is not as profound in Lawrence.

  • While i live here, I seriously doubt I send my child to Lawrence. Probably U. of Wisc./Madison, a college embedded in science and not sports, will be where he goes if something better doesn't arise. Won't have to pay out of state there either. LOL!

2

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 6 months ago

KU wants to get better. They should be very active in recruiting the best students from Kansas to raise the quality of the students who attend KU.

K State has made it clear that they will accept just about anyone. Declining Kansas population and thus enrollment is a problem that KU will need to address, but by raising standards, KU might be able to recruit more and better students from surrounding states and Illinois/Chicago.

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't want to be that guy, but how many of the 21.3% minority is African American and Hispanic?

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Jack Martin 1 year, 6 months ago

Joe & Keith – I’m sorry your children didn’t have good experiences with recruitment in the past. Stories like yours are why we have been changing our approach and being more aggressive in our outreach to students and their families.

We’re focused on recruiting students in Kansas, around the nation and around the world, but let me focus on Kansas since you mentioned it specifically.

Our recruitment efforts are statewide. When they’re not calling or e-mailing students, our recruitment representatives are frequently on the road, visiting high schools and college fairs across Kansas. For example, last month we held our Rock Chalk Roadshow, with events in Hutchinson, Garden City, Liberal, Hays and Salina, and visits to 75 high schools in between. This is in addition to the Preview KU events we just held in Wichita and Overland Park.

We’ve had a recruiter based in Garden City the last several years. We’re in our second year of holding outreach events with guidance counselors, principals and gifted coordinators that university leaders like the director of admissions and vice provost for enrollment management attend. We in fact have events in Concordia, Colby and Norton next week, and last week, we held these events in Winfield and Wichita, and the week before were in Atchison, McPherson and Great Bend.

Finally, our recruitment advertising, such as for the $50 million in scholarships and grants we offer, is statewide. And all of this is on top of the outreach that the KU Alumni Association does, such as through its 120 Hawk Days of Summer events across the state and nation this year.

The improvements to recruitment also include new scholarships I mentioned, including the four-year scholarships for new freshmen, the two-year scholarships for transfers and Jayhawk Generations scholarships for out-of-state children and grandchildren of KU grads.

This has been an area of emphasis for the university and it will continue to be. The increase in the number, academic talent and diversity of this year’s freshman class is a sign that it is working, but we also recognize that we have a lot of work still to do.

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LJD230 1 year, 6 months ago

What compelling reason does a kid on the east or west coast have for attending KU and spending four years in Laerence when they can get an equivalent or better education nearer to home?

A marketing and recruiting effort that promotes KU and Lawrence as an attractive and exciting place to get a degree is absolutely essential.

The hard question to ask is this: what is the value of a KU degree as compared to peer insitutions and will that degree bring a return on investment and be competitive in the world of work following graduation?

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irtnog2001 1 year, 6 months ago

I really believe KU administrators have made a conscious decision to downsize undergraduate student numbers and see nothing to indicate otherwise.

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KEITHMILES05 1 year, 6 months ago

Sadly, KU just never "gotten it" over the years. My oldest so very much wanted to go to KU but they would never, ever pick up the phone and only casually sent a post card. This is student who was high honors and always lived in Kansas. It is true KSU does a much,much better job recruiting and it shows. The uppities at KU really don't care of any area othen than KC, Lawrence, Topeka, and Wichita. They write everything else off as non-usable. I'd think with Dr. Gray-Little being a new bird on the block she can see the numbers, etc. and she'd crack the whip. Bottom line is it not a priority and never will be. This has been going on for years and years and years. SAD and SHAMEFUL.

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Bud Stagg 1 year, 6 months ago

KSU is out recruiting KU. My daughter went through the process 2 years ago and it was a no-brainer which school was better. She is at KSU and our whole family are KU Alums. After seeing the debacle that was the KU Recruitment process I know why the numbers are down. I work with about 100 universities across the country in the Greek systems. KU is by far the worst system out there. Arkansas for example is bringing incoming classes of over 100, KSU is over 55 and KU can barely scratch 40 girls in a new class. The KU system is getting out hustled for good students all around.

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toe 1 year, 6 months ago

Fall enrollment good. Increasing low scoring freshman, bad.

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