The university’s freshman-to-sophomore retention rate and five-year graduation rate is the highest in ACU history, barely missing a goal made five years ago.
Kevin Campbell, chief enrollment officer, said 79.4 percent of last year’s freshman returned this semester compared to 75.1 percent the year before. This year’s percentage was .6 percentage points below the goal of 80 percent set five years ago.
With 1030 students, the incoming class also increased by 7.6 percent, building on last year’s increase of 11 percent. Total enrollment is 4,461 students compared to last year’s 4,367.
Campell attributes the continued rise in student enrollment to ACU’s increasing prominence as a quality and unique institution.
“ACU provides a distinct education,” Campbell said. “We combine exceptional academics in a faith based setting. Very few schools accomplish that, and our story is getting told by more people.”
This year’s incoming class is also the most ethnically diverse class ACU has seen. Thirty-seven percent of freshman are ethnic minorities, topping last year’s record-breaking percentage.
“We’ve been working very diligently on diversity the last couple of years, so we’re very excited to see that we’re actually making progress,” Campbell said.
More than half of college students in Texas are ethnic minorities, and ACU historically has been 30 percent below the state’s average.
Campbell said the enrollment office has increased its focus on potential students’ performance in high school when looking at admissions and scholarships rather than ACT and SAT scores. Ethnic minorities are one group that has benefitted from this change, he said.
As a consequence, this freshman class’ ACT and SAT scores have decreased compared to last year’s.
“The primary reason we’ve changed our emphasis is we’ve seen that high school grades are more predictive of how students are succeeding at ACU,” Campbell said. “So we’ve put more emphasis on that than on ACT scores.”
The number of graduate students has dropped slightly to 734 from last year’s 741.
ACU received 27 more transfer students than last year, a trend Campbell said the enrollment office wants to continue.
“We’re hoping there are some opportunities for us to increase the number of transfer students we are bringing in,” Campbell said. “Over the next couple of years there will be a stronger emphasis on growing our transfer population.”
Campbell said enrollment’s current goal is to maintain the number of new students and continue to gain higher retention rates.