OHIO STATE ENROLLMENT DECLINES; MORE UNDERGRADUATES RETAINED
COLUMBUS -- Columbus campus enrollment at The Ohio State University has seen a decrease this academic year, primarily reflecting decreased graduate student enrollment and early closure of transfer admissions, as well as an intentional reduction in the size of the freshman class.
Enrollment is 48,003 on the Columbus campus, down 1.0 percent from the 48,511 undergraduate, graduate and professional students attending Ohio State last autumn quarter.
"Our projections have been at or slightly above 48,000 -- we're essentially where we expected to be," said James Mager, assistant vice president for enrollment management.
The student body in 1999 includes the most academically prepared freshman class in Ohio State history, as well as new records for enrollment of African American and Asian American students in Columbus.
This year, 3,487 African Americans are enrolled on the Columbus campus, up from the previous record of 3,465 in 1998. Similarly, enrollment of 2,541 Asian American students in Columbus exceeds the previous record of 2,488 last year.
The freshman class also recorded new all-time highs in several categories: highest average ACT score of 24.7; highest percentages in the top 10 and 25 percent of their high school classes, at 29 percent and 62 percent, respectively; the most University Scholars, at 696; the most Honors students, at 1,304; and the most high school valedictorians, at 231. The 104 National Merit Scholars in the class is the highest number of those scholars attending Ohio State in at least a decade.
Final freshman enrollment stands at 5,986 students, down from 6,092 last year. Officials intentionally sought to enroll a class of approximately 5,800, Mager said.
"Last year, we increased the freshman class enrollment to offset expected reductions in other areas of student enrollment resulting from the financial crisis in Asia," Mager said. "We returned to the effort to enroll 5,800 freshmen because we believe that our resources in academics, housing and other student services are better suited to accommodate an incoming freshman class of that size."
The steady recruitment of better-prepared freshmen has led to improvements in retention. The first-year students who began college in autumn 1998 register a retention rate of 83 percent, up from 82 percent for the 1997 entering class, Mager noted.
The decline in graduate student enrollment is attributable to a variety of factors, said Susan Huntington, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School. Enrollment of students pursuing master's degrees and Ph.D.s in Columbus decreased to 9,153 from 9,538 in 1998. Overall graduate enrollment on all campuses decreased from 10,047 to 9,635.
"The decline in graduate enrollment is part of a national trend. It's happening absolutely everywhere across the country," Huntington said. "It's associated with the strong economy. Undergraduates are being offered high-paying jobs right after graduation that will allow them to pay off loans and reduce their debt. It's hard to compete with that."
Huntington also noted observers of graduate education have seen a decline in interest among Americans to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences and engineering. She said funding agencies are trying to reverse that phenomenon by creating programs encouraging American students to specialize in those disciplines.
Graduate professional student enrollment -- those pursuing degrees in medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry and veterinary medicine on the Columbus campus -- increased slightly, to 2,758 from 2,721 in 1998.
Columbus campus undergraduate enrollment decreased 0.4 percent, to 36,092 from 36,252 last year. Total university undergraduate enrollment increased, however, to 42,596 from 42,465. Mager said early closure of transfer enrollment affected the number of undergraduates attending the Columbus campus. The university enforced a June 25 application deadline for autumn transfer enrollment because in the past, those admitted after the deadline tended to have difficulty getting into courses and housing.
"We are doing what we can to ensure that transfer students admitted to Ohio State have the best possible chance to be successful," Mager said.
Total university enrollment -- including Columbus plus the four regional campuses and the Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster -- stands at 54,989, down 0.4 percent from 55,233 last year. Even with the overall decrease, all regional campuses saw an increase in enrollment this year (see summary, below). Among them, ATI, at 1,031, has broken the 1,000 mark in enrollment for the first time in its history, and has experience four straight years of record-breaking enrollment.
Undergraduate, graduate and professional: 48,003 (-1.0 percent; 48,511 in 1998)
Undergraduate only: 36,092 (-0.4 percent; 36,252 in 1998)
Professional only: 2,758 (+1.4 percent; 2,721 in 1998)
Graduate only: 9,153 (-4.0 percent; 9,538 in 1998)
Minority enrollment (Columbus campus)
African American: 3,487 (+0.6 percent; 3,465 in 1998)
American Indian/Alaskan Native: 156 (-1.9 percent; 159 in 1998)
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 2,541 (+2.1 percent; 2,488 in 1998)
Hispanic: 841 (+2.2 percent; 823 in 1998)
Regional campuses (undergraduate and graduate)
Lima campus: 1,323 (+0.2 percent; 1,321 in 1998)
Mansfield campus: 1,573 (+3.7 percent; 1,517 in 1998)
Marion campus: 1,176 (+3.1 percent; 1,141 in 1998)
Newark campus: 1,883 (+5.9 percent; 1,778 in 1998)
ATI at Wooster: 1,031 (+6.8 percent; 965 in 1998)
Undergraduate, graduate and professional: 54,989 (-0.4 percent; 55,233 in 1998)
Contact: James Mager, Enrollment Management, (614) 688-5791