Kent State soars with new freshman class, largest Honors College in history

Katie Null

Vice President of Enrollment Management Mary Parker began her presentation at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting by changing the narrative on declining enrollment rates across Kent State University. 

“The numbers that I want to focus on are much more important than the total number of student body that we have coming in, they’re focused on student success,” Parker said. 

Enrollment across Kent campuses is down 2.4 percent, and 1.2 percent specifically on the Kent campus, Parker reported, but the students that are coming in have better test scores and higher high school GPAs.

This fall, 4,270 freshmen enrolled at the Kent campus, 572 of which joined the Honors college. Average ACT scores among freshmen improved from 23.08 in fall 2018 to 23.23 this year, and the average GPA for the class of 2023 is 3.45, a 1.5 percent increase from last year. 

The Honors College has grown drastically over the past few years, and the academic profile is improving as well. 

“They have the largest, most diverse, highest academic profile that we have seen in the university’s history,” Parker said. “The average ACT for this class … was 29.3, the GPA was a 3.86. Eight percent of those are students of color, and we had six international students, more than we’ve ever had in the Honors College.”

Retention rates are also on the rise. Kent State’s regional campuses have increased retention to 57.7 percent and the Kent Campus was able to retain 81.2 percent of students this year. 

One of President Todd Diacon’s biggest priorities in his first year as Kent State’s president is to help students graduate in four years. According to a press release that followed Wednesday’s meeting, he is already succeeding in this capacity. 

“The four-year graduation rate has improved to nearly 51 percent, an impressive increase compared to last year’s rate of 47.3 percent,” Diacon said. “This rate has increased for five consecutive years and has more than doubled in the past 11 years. In addition, the university’s six-year graduation rate has now reached 62.6 percent.”

Parker also touched on optimizing financial aid opportunities for students, using a student ready approach to the university, and utilizing technology to stabilize overall enrollment. One success of the past year, according to Parker, has been Kent State’s role in Say Yes to Education in Cleveland. 

According to its website, Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit organization that “revitalizes communities by helping them give every public high school graduate access to college or other post-secondary scholarships.” 

Sixty-one Say Yes students enrolled at Kent State University this fall, a number that the university hopes to increase in coming years.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on Dec. 4 at the Kent Campus.

Katie Null is an administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected].