Spring semester continues high enrollment trend

Suzi Starheim

Kent State enrollment is highest in history

The full spring enrollment report can be found here.


The university recently announced spring enrollment this semester is the highest ever in the 100-year history of Kent State.


Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Frank said he feels a big part of the record enrollment was the Destination Kent State program, which replaced the PASS program and now occurs during the summer.


“We had a record number in our freshman class,” Frank said. “We have more freshman than ever by a few hundred.”


Frank said in addition to a record freshman class came a record retention rate, increased 6.2 percent.


“We have never had a retention increase like that in our 100 years,” Frank said. “It is a phenomenal and once-in-a-lifetime change. Last year’s freshmen returned at a much higher rate.”


Frank said regional campus enrollment was also a big factor for the increase, with 14,362 students enrolled at the Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Kent, Salem, Stark, Trumbull and Tuscarawas campuses.


The enrollment increase totalled 11.6 percent, with 38,196 students currently enrolled, compared to 34,222 last spring.


“It is very impressive to have more than 38,000 students enrolled at Kent State and to maintain more than 99 percent of those students from fall to spring,” Frank said.


David Garcia, associate vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, said maintaining this increase in enrollment will require the work of faculty and staff to be more engaged with their students.


“How we maintain this increase that we are seeing in retention is to provide the services both inside and outside of the classroom to ensure their (students’) success,” Garcia said. “Faculty and staff have to go above their typical daily duties.”


One way to do this is to identify “at-risk” students early in the semester, Frank said.


“The single best predictor is if students do poorly on their first set of midterms,” he said. “We put in a system where we identify them and try to get it to them quickly.”


Economic downturn aids enrollment


Frank said in addition to the Destination Kent State program adding to enrollment numbers is the fact that people tend to come back to school when the economy is not sound.


Drew Collins, senior general studies major, said he heard about the record enrollment through a university message and has noticed a lot of middle-aged people who got laid off and have chosen to come back to school.


“It’s the ideal time to get extra education,” Collins said. “College education is becoming more of the standard rather than high school education.”


Collins said he feels the economic recession actually helped Kent State’s enrollment rates rather than hurt them.


“People know that there are not as many unskilled jobs hiring,” he said.


Garcia said he also noticed the economic recession adding to enrollment.


“Students are more likely to stay because they are not being enticed by jobs that they may have experienced four or five years ago,” Garcia said.


Contact academics reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].