Freshman enrollment soars despite tougher standards

Jamie Shearer

University expects significant increase of retention rates

Freshmen enrollment is the biggest it has been in three years, President Lester Lefton said.

Despite rejecting more applications than Kent State ever has, 3,950 new students are enrolled, give or take 50.

“It looks like Fall enrollment and retention rates are both going to be up significantly,” said Wayne Schneider, director of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.

Freshman-to-sophomore retention increased by 6 percent, Lefton said.

Fall enrollment and retention numbers aren’t official until Sept. 15.

Schneider attributes the growth to several specific efforts the university has been working on.

“You can’t just point to one or two things,” he said. “It’s a bunch of things going on that’s lifting everything up.”

For one, over the past year, RPIE and the Admissions Office have provided lists of admitted students to departments so they could recruit students interested in their programs.

“Kind of like a coach recruiting the best athlete, you have a department chair, faculty member, students calling the best students – they’re more likely to enroll at Kent because they’ve made those contacts,” Schneider said.

One thing the university seems to be focusing on is connecting with students. The Student Success Center has been working with residence halls to have in-house tutoring, making it more convenient for students to get assistance.

If a freshman drops a single class in the Fall semester, Schneider said, the retention rate is about 20 points lower than a freshman who doesn’t drop a class. So last year, if a student dropped a class, he or she got an e-mail suggesting to talk to an adviser.

“We can make those contacts, but it’s up to the student to respond to them,” Schneider said, adding that the retention rate for students who dropped a class has gone up.

“It seems like our students, Kent State students, like it when somebody just reaches out,” he said.

Another factor that Schneider said he hopes will have a positive effect on retention after this Fall is the new Destination Kent program for incoming freshmen, which replaced the Placement, Advising and Scheduling System.

The new overnight program hosted more than 3,800 students in June and July, and Joanna Liedel, associate director for Student Success Programs, says the program will help retention.

“I think the students arriving in Fall have a better chance of being retained because students had a greater comfort level with the college,” she said.

Contact academic affairs reporter Jamie Shearer at [email protected].