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Freshman class grows for fourth straight year

Fri, 09/25/2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas freshman class has grown for the fourth straight year, according to enrollment numbers released today.

KU has 4,187 new freshmen on campus this fall, an increase of 2.5 percent from last year’s total of 4,084. The freshman class has the highest average high school GPA and second-highest average ACT score (25.2) in KU history, as well as the second-highest percentage of minority students (22.3 percent) on record.

“Trends for the past four years demonstrate that more and more students want to be part of a major public research university with highly ranked academic programs and unique opportunities,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “We are pleased to have increased again the size of our freshman class and to have done so with such academically talented and diverse students.”

This year’s freshmen also set KU records for percentage of students with an ACT/Converted SAT score of 30 or higher (16.9 percent) and an ACT score of 27 or higher (38 percent).

“The University of Kansas continues to attract high-achieving students, due in large part to the academic environment and experiences we offer,” Gray-Little said. “For example, when we launched the new KU Core Curriculum two years ago, we became one of the few public Association of American Universities institutions to specifically include undergraduate research, internships and study abroad in undergraduate curriculum. And in 2016, we begin admitting students under our new admissions procedures, which will further encourage student achievement and increase the number of students who graduate from the university.”

Sixty percent of this year’s freshmen are Kansas residents, while 40 percent are nonresidents. The freshman class includes the largest international student population in KU history, both in terms of total number (289) and percentage of the class (6.9 percent).

“In addition to continuing to be the top choice for high-ability Kansas students, we continue to see more out-of-state and international students choosing the University of Kansas,” said Jeffrey S. Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “This growth in the student body illustrates that Kansas has the academic reputation and the brand to recruit nationally and globally, which continues to differentiate us from other universities in the region and supports our goal of being recognized as a top-tier research university.”

Today’s data also show the university’s overall enrollment has grown for the second straight year to 28,091 — an increase of 0.4 percent — the highest total since 2011. The international student population is up 2.7 percent to a record 2,538 students from more than 100 countries, while minority student population is up 5.3 percent to a total of 19.3 percent of total KU enrollment, the highest percentage on record.

“To see four straight increases in freshman class size and two straight increases in overall enrollment is good news,” Gray-Little said, “and it’s especially noteworthy in the context of university enrollment trends statewide. As the state’s flagship research university, we want to continue to bring talented individuals to KU so they can get their degrees and go on to improve our state and our world.”

Additionally, today’s enrollment data show a record-high 41.8 percent of the fall 2011 class graduated in four years, and the two-year retention rate for the fall 2013 class is higher than the previous 10 classes.

“Recruiting new students to Mount Oread is important, but it’s just the first step,” Vitter said. “Once students are here, we want to ensure they succeed and graduate on time. Last fall, the university introduced a progression and graduation plan that focuses on three areas — the academic experience, advising and removing barriers to earning a degree. The data released today show we are making good progress in terms of educating students and making sure they earn their degrees.”

Beyond offering students an outstanding educational experience, university leaders point to changes in recruitment strategy as important to the four straight years of freshman class growth.

“During the past several years, we have made a purposeful effort to implement a more data-informed and integrated approach to identify, attract, fund and enroll best-fit students at KU,” said Matt Melvin, vice provost of enrollment management. “Such an approach enables staff members who serve the university with a tremendous amount of pride and passion to spend time and energy building relationships with students and families. Largely as a result of that effort, we continue to see positive results.”

The university is working to bring in next year’s class of Jayhawks. Prospective students are encouraged to apply for scholarships by Nov. 1. 

Additional highlights from today’s enrollment numbers:

  • Enrollment counts are up for the schools of Education (17.7 percent), Business (9.8 percent), Health Professions (3.7 percent), Medicine (2 percent), Journalism (1.8 percent) and Social Welfare (1.4 percent).


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