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Growth in New Freshmen, Transfers Among UCM Enrollment Successes

By Jeff Murphy, September 15, 2017

WARRENSBURG, MO – Successes that include 5.1 percent growth in new freshmen, a 3.4 percent increase in new transfer students, and a 1.1 percent increase in student retention are being experienced at the University of Central Missouri. UCM announced its fall 2017 enrollment statistics following a census conducted this week by the Office of Institutional Research.

 Data shows a total 12,333 students, which includes 9,801 undergraduate students, up from 9,786 in fall 2016. Although the university is experiencing a 5.8 percent increase in combined new in-state and out-of-state domestic graduate students, fall graduate enrollment of 2,532 students is down from 4,202 students last fall, due to a decline in international students.

 “We’re very pleased by what we’re seeing in several different undergraduate categories that are significant to our efforts to continue to create ongoing momentum and sustainability in enrollment. They demonstrate that our recruitment strategies are having a positive impact, but we also understand our success as a university means more than bringing students to campus,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “Once students are on campus we want each student to have a high-impact educational experience and, of course, achieve the end goal of earning a degree. Our census data clearly shows progress toward this goal.”

Mike Godard, vice provost for enrollment management, said there are 1,691 first-time freshmen on campus, an increase from 1,605 in 2016. This is in addition to 885 undergraduate transfer students, which is up from 855 the previous year. He attributes these improved numbers to a stronger presence of admissions representatives in metropolitan areas that include Kansas City, on both sides of the state line, as well as St. Louis and Chicago.

One of the factors affecting overall enrollment is the decline in students from India, a situation other universities across the nation also are addressing.  In 2017, out of 695 total international graduate students, there are 612 students from India. This compares with 2,302 students from India in 2016. Factors related to this decline include India’s economic struggles; issues related to obtaining visas to study in the United States; enhanced competition with Canadian and other international institutions; concerns related to safety in the U.S. and federal policies that impact students from overseas.

“Last year our graduate international students made up 57.1 percent of our total graduate student population; this year they only make up 27.5 percent,” Godard said.

President Ambrose and a number of other university faculty and staff members are currently traveling to India, Nepal and Saudi Arabia to further the university’s commitment to international students and alumni, and broaden UCM's model of delivering a worldly perspective to all our students. His visit over a two-week period includes attending a college fair in Hyderabad, meeting with various university administrators and faculty at international institutions, members of major corporations, and UCM alumni in this region.

UCM has made progress in many other student areas, according to the 2017 fall census. Here are just a few examples:

  • The number of black non-Hispanic students increased from 7.7 percent to 8.6 percent of the student population, and Hispanic students climbed from 3.2 percent to 4 percent contributing to a more diverse campus.
  • Out-of-state undergraduate enrollment climbed from 994 to 1,058 students.
    International undergraduate student enrollment increased from 238 to 249 students.
  • Dual credit/high school students enrolled at UCM climbed from 788 in 2016 to 1,009 this fall.
  • This growth was aided by the university’s Innovation Track programs with area high schools that encourage students to begin their college degrees early to graduate faster and to reduce the cost of their college education.
  • UCM's average ACT score of 22.2 for the past two years, which compares with 21.6 in fall 2012, demonstrates continued progress in recruiting quality students.
  • The incoming freshman class of 2017 includes 47.2 percent first generation students, while 51.5 percent of new transfers are first generation.

President Ambrose said data demonstrates progress toward meeting goals of the university’s degree completion agenda, which contributes to a strong value proposition for students and their families by keeping tuition as low as possible to make a college education more affordable and accessible, while also reducing debt load by helping students to graduate on time. Consistent with these goals, UCM’s tuition has been below the Consumer Price Index for seven consecutive years. UCM is the first institution in Missouri to implement the 15-to-Finish program, which encourages students to take at least 15 hours per semester (30 hours per academic year). Census data shows this initiative is gaining traction with 41.9 percent of the students earning 30 or more hours for the year, up from
29.5 percent in 2011.

The 15-to-Finish program also includes a scholarship for students. The first four-year cohort of UCM students completed the program during the 2016-2017 academic year, and in spring 2017 some 423 students collectively received more than $290,000 their last semester to help reduce the cost of their education.

As UCM continues to build enrollment, Godard stressed the value of aggressively targeting communication to prospective students using traditional marketing efforts, and making one-on-one connections using communication tools that most appeal to them.

“We know the personal touch is important, so our admissions representatives make it a top priority to assign more time on the telephone speaking with students or connecting with them by text messages,” he said. “Among UCM’s selling points are its physical campus and its faculty and staff. As we reach out to high schools, we invite students to visit the university and meet our welcoming faculty and staff firsthand,” Godard said.


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