Student Retention Drives Kent State Enrollment Growth at Its Kent Campus; Campus Also Welcomes Highest-Achieving Freshman Class

Kent Campus sets new all-time high in total enrollment

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Kent State University continues to set records and reach its enrollment goals. The university released its official 15th day census data for the 2014 Fall Semester, reporting the highest retention rate for the Kent Campus in the university’s 104-year history. Retention of Kent Campus freshmen has increased to 81.7 percent, up from last year’s record retention level of 77.6 percent. This represents the percentage of freshmen who continue their studies at the university for their sophomore year. 

“Kent State’s faculty, staff and administrators continue to dedicate themselves to improving student success,” said Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “In the last three years, we have built on that dedication by improving academic advising, expanding support services and co-curricular experiences, and encouraging students to enroll in and pass at least 15 credit hours per semester so that they will graduate in four years. These efforts and others have lifted our retention and graduation rates to record highs.”

The Kent Campus also is welcoming its highest-achieving freshman class while also setting a new all-time high enrollment record. The academically motivated freshmen have an average GPA of 3.34 and average ACT score of nearly 23; both are records for an incoming class. Unduplicated (or preponderant) headcount at the Kent Campus for fall 2014 is 28,457 students, exceeding last year’s record of 28,019. This marks the eighth consecutive year of enrollment growth on the Kent Campus. 

“The Class of 2018 has impressive credentials, setting a new record for our incoming class in terms of average GPA and ACT,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren. “We’ve exceeded our enrollment and retention goals across the board, and with the Kent Campus at capacity, this is shaping up to be an amazing year. Our record retention rate shows that we put students first, helping them succeed in the classroom so they can graduate on time.”

Total enrollment for the 2014 Fall Semester across the university’s eight campuses is 41,214 students. The unduplicated headcount for the Regional Campuses is 12,757 students. Students are counted only once at the campus at which they hold a majority of their course load. After a significant increase in enrollment due to the recession, enrollment at the Regional Campuses has adjusted to the current economic climate and is in line with its expected enrollment under normal conditions.

T. David Garcia, Kent State’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said the university’s efforts to build student retention are working. 

“For the past five years, Kent State has strategically built its enrollment plan focused on retention,” Garcia said. “One key factor that plays a significant role with retention is increasing the academic profile of the entering freshman class. We have seen the average high school GPA increase from 3.21 in 2009 to a 3.31 in 2013 to a 3.34 in 2014. The payoff for Kent State is huge as we are seeing the fall-to-fall freshman retention rate hit 81.7 percent for the first time in the history of Kent State. The hard work and extra efforts from faculty and staff who spend many hours working on initiatives that focus on retention is amazing.”

Popular Majors and Degree Programs Contribute to Enrollment Growth in Colleges 

  • The College of Business Administration, ranked in the top tier of 2015 U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Undergraduate Business Programs,” reported a 3 percent increase in fall enrollment and a freshman retention rate of 83.8 percent, up from 80 percent last year. With total enrollment of 3,379, it is one of the larger colleges on the Kent Campus and maintains prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) dual accreditation in both business and accounting, an honor earned by fewer than 1 percent of business colleges worldwide. 
  • The College of Nursing, with partnerships with more than 100 hospitals, clinics and extended care facilities allowing students to get valuable experience and develop relationships in their fields, reported a 3 percent increase in fall enrollment. The college has 2,078 total students enrolled and graduated 352 bachelor’s and master’s students in May.
  • The College of the Arts, which includes the School of Theatre and Dance, School of Music, School of Art, and School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, reported a 6.9 percent increase in fall enrollment. The Fashion School is ranked fourth in the country by The college has total enrollment of 2,723 students. In addition, the new 115,000 square-foot Center for the Visual Arts, part of the university’s Foundations of Excellence initiative, will bring together all School of the Art programs under one roof.
  • The College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology, which includes Northeast Ohio’s only aeronautics program and is one of 30 elite colleges to earn accreditation by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI), reported a 10 percent increase in fall enrollment. The college has total enrollment of 1,042 and will begin offering classes in the new Aeronautics and Technology building along the science corridor beginning in January.
  • The College of Communication and Information, which includes the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, School of Visual Communication Design, School of Library and Information Science and School of Communications Studies, reported a fall increase of 2 percent and has total enrollment of 3,236 students.

A Growing and Diverse Student Body Attracted to Kent State

The number of new AALANA (African American, Latino American and Native American) freshman students increased to 690 students, up 3.3 percent from 668 students last year. The university’s strong advising, retention and student success services contribute to the attraction of AALANA high students with average high school GPA scores of 3.21, up from 3.18 last year.

Global Competitiveness Reaches More International Level

With a current enrollment of 2,668 international students, Kent State has one of the largest international student bodies in Ohio. Fall enrollment increased by 9.03 percent with students from 103 countries now attending classes. 

Record Online Enrollment as More Than 40 Percent of Kent State Students Take Advantage of Virtual Classrooms

More Kent State students are embracing the flexibility of taking online courses. A record 16,604 students signed up for distance learning classes, an 8.9 percent increase compared with 15,251 students taking one or more online courses last year. Overall, more than 40 percent of Kent State students are taking one or more online courses. 

Online growth can be found in nearly every concentration and in degrees that can be completed entirely online, including master’s programs in Public Relations, Instructional Technology, and User Experience Design and bachelor’s degrees in Insurance Studies, Public Health, and Nursing. 

Increased Graduate School Enrollment Points to Success

Graduate school enrollment at the Kent Campus also continues to grow, including a 173 percent increase in enrollment in Kent State’s School of Digital Science and 41.9 percent increase in enrollment in the College of Public Health.

Enrollment in graduate programs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is up 10.7 percent on the Kent Campus with 629 students seeking advanced degrees in STEM compared to 568 last year.

Overall, 6,138 students, a 2 percent increase over 6,018 students last year, are taking advantage of the more than 50 master’s programs in more than 100 areas of specialization as well as 23 doctoral programs with more than 50 specializations.  

Other highlights:

  • Kent State’s School of Digital Science continues to experience significant enrollment growth with 324 students, up 87.3 percent compared to 173 last year.
  • Two Kent State colleges are each experiencing double-digit growth. Enrollment in the College of Public Health is up 12.5 percent to 794 students compared to 706 last year, while enrollment in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology reached 1,042, a 10.1 percent increase over the 946 students who were enrolled a year ago.

Kent State’s eight campuses are located in Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Kent, Salem, Stark, Trumbull and Tuscarawas. For more information about Kent State, visit