Welcoming a new class of Zips
MONDAY, AUG. 25
New Roo Weekend and Convocation were truly a celebration of a new beginning -- for thousands of students being welcomed to our campus as new Zips, and for me as I welcomed back thousands more returning students, our faculty and staff.
UA has broken several records this year with respect to the entering class with the highest number of applications, the highest average GPA, the largest entering Honors freshman class, the largest Honors College enrollment overall, and the highest number of minority entering freshman Honors students. This all occurred in a highly competitive market with a decreasing population of traditional age college freshmen.
The Class of 2018 at InfoCision Stadium during New Roo Weekend.
The fall semester is off to a promising start and the new freshman class is larger and even better prepared than last year’s entering class. Though numbers are not yet confirmed until mid-September, there are many preliminary indicators that are most promising:
- More than 18,700 freshmen students applied, compared to more than 13,600 last year.
- Overall freshman enrollment is up 2% with nearly 4,300 students currently registered. This is a significant shift that took place in one year: Enrollment was down 9.5% for the Fall 2012 class and down 10% for Fall 2013, resulting in nearly 1,000 fewer students in those combined entering classes.
- Among first-time freshmen on main campus pursuing a bachelor’s degree, enrollment is up 9.4%, and the average GPA -- the best predictor of college success -- is again up slightly from the year before, from 3.33 to now 3.35, the highest in UA’s history. Their average ACT is 23.0 compared to 23.3 last year.
- Our Honors College is seeing record enrollment, with nearly 600 new freshmen students (compared to 347 last year) and an increase in minorities enrolled, from 4.0% last year to 9.3% in this year’s entering Honors freshman class. The overall enrollment of all Honors students is now at 1,828, a record number for UA. Entering Honors freshmen average a 4.0 GPA and a 28.9 ACT.
- We are seeing a noteworthy increase in minority students enrolled at UA, including African Americans and Hispanics, along with an increase in students from outside of Ohio. This year’s entering class has 25.1% minority enrollment, compared to 23.9% last year.
- As we were able to provide more scholarship dollars to more students, we have seen a nearly 14% increase since 2013 and 16% increase since 2012 in enrolled students who qualified for general scholarships based on merit. Our new underrepresented scholarship was awarded to 274 students, contributing to our enrollment growth and student college preparedness. Our Akron Public School Innovation Generation Scholars in the entering class now number 83, up from 50 last year.
The growth in the entering class has occurred even as we have steered significantly more students who were not ready for the rigors of a university program to more appropriate preparatory programs or community colleges throughout the region. Known as our Pathways strategy, it is designed to increase the likelihood of success for the students who are here. Nearly 600 applicants were not admitted this year compared to 359 last year and 138 in 2012, the first year of the Pathways program.
The preliminary first day count suggests that overall head-count is down 3.2% to 25,771, which is accounted for in our budgeting process along with student credit hours which are down 1.0%. Of course, the final enrollment numbers for budgeting purposes (which includes new students and returning students) will be measured at census at the 14th day of the semester. More work lies ahead for faculty and staff to work together to ensure student success and support our students’ persistence to graduation. The work that has been underway to improve retention is showing results: there has been a 6.1% increase in retention of first-time freshmen retention to 2nd year; and there has been a 2.1% increase in retention of all undergraduate students from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014.
Just as we welcome our students, faculty and staff back to campus, I want to extend a special greeting to new Deans of our College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering (Eric Amis) and our School of Law (Matthew Wilson). They come aboard at a dynamic time of change at our university, and I look forward to working closely with them and all of our academic leadership.
Welcome back and Go Zips!
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