The retention rate of last year’s freshman was the third highest retention rate of first year students in history at 79 percent.
According to student population numbers found in the report as of the 12th day of the semester, data shows that enrollment numbers for the graduate programs have increased by 101 students and undergraduate enrollment is down by 19 students. Enrollment growth overall as an institution over the last five years has been related to continued growth in the graduate programs.
Provost of the university, Dr. Robert Rhodes, said that every year nationally, universities look at their 12th day numbers for the official count and ACU does the same.
“We are down approximately 20 students overall at the undergraduate level, but we’re up about 100 students overall as an institution because of growth in graduate programs,” Rhodes said. “So, as an institution we’re larger this year than we were last year. As an undergraduate population we’re about the same.”
Last year’s graduating class of 2019 was one of the universities largest classes to exist. The class of 2019’s graduation and movement out of the university had an effect on enrollment numbers.
“But we’ve also benefitted by increased retention,” Rhodes said. “We’ve had more students retained this past year than in the previous year. So that helps us, as well. Overall, even though we had a large class graduating out, more students staying across the other classes combined with the freshman class coming in, is about the same as last year.”
Kevin Campbell, senior vice president for operations of the university, said that retention was up at all three levels of returning sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“Retention is extremely important because it’s obviously what leads to our graduation rates,” Campbell said. “What it means for our university is a couple of things. First, retention is one of the better indicators of, are students satisfied with the experience that is taking place? Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel that they are getting a good education, that they are getting encouraged and stretched in the classroom?”
Campbell said the more satisfied current students are, the more likely students will want to attend ACU in the future.
“Healthy retention rates are typically the number one indicator that those things are improving,” Campbell said. “Student satisfaction is an extremely important component of not only what we desire of our students but also helps drive future enrollment.”