Freshmen Zips: Best academically prepared for success


With an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.3, the entering class of bachelor’s degree seeking University of Akron Zips on the Akron campus are better prepared to succeed in college than their peers over the last two decades. One-third of the class rank in the top 25 percent of their high school classes; 43 of the new Zips are class valedictorians.

Also, with increased scholarship support, the current generation of Zips will reap additional benefits from their Akron Experience: UA was recently named the number one public university in Northeast Ohio to provide “the greatest lifetime return on investment” by Affordable Colleges Online.

“Our freshman class is stronger and better prepared for the academic challenges in higher education,” said University of Akron President Luis M. Proenza. “This is the result of our commitment to offer both opportunity and the promise of success to all of our students. Through a unique Akron Experience, we are preparing them for successful careers in the global economy.”

Students at The University of Akron

Noteworthy is the growth in undergraduate demand for programs in engineering, business, health professions and computer-related fields, which position UA graduates to better compete in areas of significant job opportunities. These programs also have strong internship and co-op experiences, along with impressive rates of post-graduate job placements.

“We have extraordinary programs in growth areas of the economy that provide our students the learning and real-world experiences necessary to career success,” said Proenza. In fact, 82 percent of the graduates of the Class of 2012 participated in experiential learning programs that correlate with improved job prospects after graduation.

Total enrollment at UA for the 2013-14 academic year is 27,079. Though overall enrollment is down 5.9 percent from last year, the decline was anticipated as part of a multi-year strategy to improve academic preparedness, retention and graduation rates for all students, according to UA Senior Vice President, Provost and Chief Operating Officer Mike Sherman.

“Starting in 2006, we experienced a five-year period of tremendous growth—26 percent growth—with enrollment peaking in 2011," Sherman said. "The numbers we are seeing today are due, in part, to an enrollment strategy we instituted in the last two years. For example, we steered nearly 400 students this past year into programs at community colleges where they will be able to receive more preparatory courses and be better equipped to succeed in the initial stages of their higher education. This is a student success strategy that aligns with our college completion objectives.”

Sherman also attributed some of the decline to meeting academic and financial requirements for students to remain in school.

Strengthening retention

“Enrollment is not just about attracting new students and making sure they are prepared academically for the rigors of college; it also is about retaining the students once they get here,” said UA Vice President for Student Success Jim Tressel. “We must do more and we are doing more to help our students succeed in the classroom, to provide them the guidance that puts them on a clear path to accumulating credits in their field of interest and obtaining their desired degree.”

UA has significantly expanded its advising program, seen an increase in students directly admitted to specific colleges, reduced the required number of credits for graduation and increased course offerings and availability, including online, evenings and weekends.

“We are focused on helping our students be successful without accumulating a lot of college debt,” said Tressel. More than 30 percent of UA students are the first in their families to go to college. “Our students come to us filled with hope and the desire to succeed, oftentimes with significant financial challenges. We are increasing our scholarship opportunities, focusing on keeping student costs down, debt levels low, and providing the academic advising and faculty support they need to be successful. Retention is a university-wide priority.”

Media contact: Eileen Korey, 330-972-8589 or