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Enrollment down, quality up

September 26, 2012

 

KELSY KERSHAW
Staff Reporter

 

With Tech being named a Tier One institution and its academic requirements being raised, the incoming freshman academic enrollment rate has gone down but the quality of the student has gone up.

 

Pamela Ford, dean of enrollment management, said the incoming freshman class enrollment is down compared to last year’s, but their preparedness is level is much higher.

 

“Enrollment is down this fall by 1.9 percent, but our freshman admissions requirements did go up quite a bit,” she said. “Regardless, we have enrolled the most academically well-prepared freshman class in the history of the university.”

 

This fall 1,307 freshmen were enrolled at Tech, down from the 1,632 who were enrolled fall 2011. However, the drop in the admissions number is not completely negative, said Kendall Guillot, a senior health informatics and information management major.

 

“The numbers are down, but I was actually happy about them because the average freshman ACT score went from a 23.8 to a 24.1, which is a phenomenal jump,” he said. “Most people are disappointed when numbers go down, but the caliber of students we are attracting is going up, which is a positive thing.”

 

When compared to the state and national freshman ACT score averages, Tech’s admissions requirements increase is significant. Ford said if the increase between the past two freshman classes is not convincing enough, then just compare state and national figures.

 

“The state freshman ACT score average is 20.3 and the national average is 21.1, so we’re really proud of our students and our increased scores,” she said.

 

Not only did the freshman ACT score average increase, but Tech’s retention rate did as well, Ford said. She said two years ago it was at 74 percent and last year it went up to 77 percent and has remained consistent this year.

 

Retention rate is the percentage of first-time, first-year students who continue at that school the following year.

 

The retention rate increase is evident in the overall enrollment of our university. Guillot, the president of Student Recruiters, said when he was admitted into Tech in fall 2009, the overall enrollment was 11,289 students.

 

“But this year, before the ninth day of class, our enrollment was 11,360, which is an increase from years past,” he said. “So yes, there is fluctuation, but I think that is good when rates and some numbers are going up.”

 

Shelby Strother, a freshman biology major, said she chose to come to Tech because of the lower prices, but also because of its reputation. She said it is a highly respected school and she figured she would be getting a great education for an affordable price.

 

“I think Tech is a top tier school and I know I will be prepared for my future here,” Strother said.

 

Ford said when compared to other universities across the state of Louisiana, Tech holds its own in academic standing.

 

“Our enrollment rate is second only to LSU in Baton Rouge, and our retention rate is second to LSU as well,” she said. “And with LSU being a flagship school and Tech being a statewide institution, that speaks measures for us.”

 

With overall enrollment and retention rates rising, as well as admissions requirements jumping, Tech’s graduation rate is sure to show some increase in the future, Ford said.

 

“Right now the graduation rate is 48.2 percent, which was the recorded rate since the last big admissions requirement jump in 2005,” she said. “Like our retention rate, our graduation rate is second in the state of Louisiana only to LSU.”

 

Ford said it is a goal of the university, ultimately, to get the freshmen admissions number to go back up.

 

“It may take a couple of years but we would like to get them to go back up,” she said. “We’re going to work really hard to try to make that happen.”

 

Ford also expressed excitement in the increase of achievements by the incoming freshman. She said she is not letting the lower admission number get her down, and neither is Guillot.

 

“The quality of our students is rapidly getting stronger,” Guillot said. “Which I feel is a lot more important than quantity in this situation.”

 

Email comments to  kjk016@latech.edu.

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