With a slight drop in freshmen enrollment and an economy where people are going back to work, SDSU managed to see a slight increase in enrollment, university officials said.
The total number of students in the six Board of Regents system schools is up 167, which is a 0.46 percent increase, meaning the total headcount remains level according to Jack Warner, executive director of the BOR.
Figures released by the BOR show 10,446 total students enrolled on-campus at SDSU, which is an increase of 75 students from 2013. Total SDSU enrollment is 12,557, up just three students from last year’s total.
SDSU saw a decrease of 40.3 Full-time Equivalent students, compared to the fall 2013 numbers. A student taking 15 credit hours is considered full time, as taking 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year will put students on track to graduate in four years, said Doug Wermedal, associate vice president of student affairs.
This year’s freshmen class is the second-largest at 2,283, down 23 students from the 2,306 freshmen enrolled in the fall of 2013. This number falls between the 2,200 to 2,300 goal outlined in the IMPACT 2018 strategic plan.
This year, the residence halls opened with 98 percent occupancy, with 4,088 residents. Wermedal said the planning that went into the seven residence halls that have been built since 2009 accounted for a sustained and modest growth of the freshmen class.
Undergraduate student retention from first year to second year increased to 77 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from last year. According to Chicoine, the increase in retention is evidence the university’s Student Success Program continues to perform well and the university is on track to have an 80 percent or higher retention rate, as outlined in IMPACT 2018.
“The stronger retention rate means more students from last year’s record freshman class are on campus. Graduate and international student [numbers] have increased this year, tracking well with the goals of IMPACT 2018, the strategic plan,” Chicoine said.
Wermedal credits retention increases to implementation of the Student Success Program, as well as the early-alert system on D2L and a dedicated staff.
“Starting with recruitment, we make sure that student career goals match up with what SDSU offers,” Wermedal said. “From there, we continue with student support.”
There are students from all 50 states as well as students from 79 countries enrolled at SDSU. South Dakota residents account for 59 percent of students enrolled.
“We are pleased with the growth of our international students,” Chicoine said.
The number of graduate students increased 1,279 and the PhD program has enrollment of 316, a decrease of one student from fall 2013.
Overall, the six BOR universities saw a total headcount of 36,532, an increase in headcount of 167 students, but a decrease of 45.2 FTE students. Warner said this decrease is expected in an economy emerging from a recession where people are going back to work. This is also reflected in a slight drop in enrollment at both the University Center locations, in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, Wermedal said.
“As more employment opportunities become available to students, they will tend to lighten their course loads to accommodate the workplace,” Warner said.