The 11th day of class has come and gone at Arkansas State University, which means final registration numbers have been compiled and dispersed.
“We went up in certain things, we were down in certain areas, but overall, we were flat, which is good. And it gives us momentum going into this fall semester,” said Dr. Bill Smith, chief communications officer.
The total number of students for spring 2023 is 13,342. Four more students enrolled at the Jonesboro campus, while 13 students left Campus Queretaro. In spring 2022, there were 13,351 students enrolled.
“Every university bases its enrollment off its fall numbers because everybody graduates in some form or fashion in the middle of the year. So, systemically, it’s always up, down, up, down, up, down. So springs are never more than falls. You always have to compare 11th day spring to 11th day spring,” Smith said.
Dr. Thilla Sivakumaran, vice chancellor for enrollment management and global outreach, said A-State Online enrollment is continuing to grow due to the launching of new programs of study such as game design, cybersecurity and public health.
“We’re getting programs with the diversification of the portfolio which I think will also help attract students both online and on campus. That’s one of the things that we’re really working hard on is how to either redesign or create new on campus degrees that could also be online,” Sivakumaran said.
General trends for this semester’s enrollment numbers include a decrease in online out-of-state graduate enrollment as well as on-campus graduate programs. International first-year student enrollment also decreased down to 60 students compared to last spring’s 123, but Sivakumaran said that was due to “pent up demand.”
“Once that initial surge comes, then it just goes back down to normal. That’s what we saw, that this was seeing,” Sivakumaran said. “We are getting a lot of applications for international students to come here and we’re getting a lot of applications for domestic students to come here for next fall.”
A-State is up 700 admits for the incoming first-year class compared to last year for this coming fall.
“There’s a lot of work left to do because we have to yield those students. So just because they’re admitted doesn’t mean that they’re going to come to A-State. So this spring semester is very important,” Sivakumaran said.
Marketing for those potential students includes promoting scholarships, updating admission booklets and promoting student life.
“If you talk to an average high school student, they’ll talk about the campus experience as the number one thing that they look for when they come here. (They want to) sit at a coffee shop or the Starbucks lounge and study,” Sivakumaran said. “Support is another thing like ‘what’s there to help me be successful?’”
Smith said the significance of the 11th day of class for enrollment numbers was tied to the disbursement of federal aid.
“People drop out usually around the 11th day and that’s another reason why everybody has the 11th day and then we have to do this accounting to make sure the ones that we have are really the ones we have,” Smith said.
Chancellor Dr. Todd Shields is working on a recruitment to graduation committee to work on improving retention rates, as well as helping students the university brings in to graduate in a timely manner.
If an incoming class is smaller, students must be retained at a higher rate in order for growth to occur, which is what the committee aims to do.
“Smaller classes are being replaced by growingly larger classes, that’s putting us back where we were,” Smith said. “It’s a slow process. It’s that classic ‘you can’t turn a cruise ship quickly.’”
Over 2,400 students have been admitted for fall 2023.
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