Freshman numbers mixed on state campuses

Freshman numbers mixed on state campuses

Freshman enrollment numbers are mixed at other Illinois public university campuses across the state.

Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the UI campus in Springfield saw their freshman classes grow this fall.

But freshman enrollment at Illinois State University and Western Illinois University declined slightly, and Eastern Illinois University's remained steady.

Up or down, several campuses reported improved academic credentials for incoming freshmen, including Western and Southern.

Here's a recap:

— Southern: The freshman class is the biggest in two decades, with 2,571 students, up 12.7 percent over last year. Overall enrollment, though, is down for the ninth year in a row, at 17,964, a 4.7 percent decline from 18,847 last year.

In a statement, SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng attributed the increase in freshman to aggressive national recruiting and financial aid strategies, with 750 students awarded academic scholarships compared to 148 last fall. The school had a record 14,118 applicants. The average ACT score for the class is up a full point, Cheng added.

— UI Springfield: The university's smallest campus has the largest freshman class in its history this fall, up nearly 20 percent over 2012 to 339 students.

Formerly a two-year, upper-division school, the campus didn't accept freshmen until 2001.

The campus has 5,137 students overall, up from 5,048 last year. That includes 2,098 graduate students. A total of 1,047 students live on campus.

— Northern: The number of new freshman increased by 15 students, to 2,679, marking the second straight year of gains at NIU.

The university's total enrollment of 21,138 is 3.3 percent less than the 21,869 in fall 2012, though graduate student enrollment rose by 36 students to 5,020. The overall decrease can be attributed to a declining number of high school graduates in Illinois, a 1.7 percent decline in new transfers, a sizeable graduating class in spring 2013, and student retention, NIU officials said in a news release.

— Eastern: EIU reversed a multiyear decline in the number of new freshmen with a modest 2.5 percent increase this fall. But the overall number of freshmen — including continuing students without enough credits to be sophomores — remained steady at 1,941, according to a university release. The number of new transfer students also dropped to 938 from 1,029.

Eastern has 8,347 undergraduates, down from 8,975 last year.

— Illinois State: Freshman enrollment dropped by more than 100 students this fall to 2,981, down from 3,088 in 2012. The number of undergraduates also fell from 18,207 to 17,749.

Total enrollment dropped only slightly, from 20,502 to 20,272, aided by an increase in off-campus enrollment, officials said in a news release. The university's target enrollment is 20,000 to 21,000.

— Western: Freshman enrollment dropped from 1,754 in 2012 to 1,652 this year, and total enrollment fell 4.1 percent (498 students) to 11,707.

Still, the campus reported the average ACT score for incoming freshmen rose from 20.7 to 21.1 this fall, and the average high school GPA increased from 3.04 to 3.11.

— UI Chicago: The campus has a record total enrollment of 27,589 this fall, including 16,660 undergraduates, 8,186 graduate students and 2,743 professional students. That tops last year's enrollment by 77 students and the 2011's record by 9 students, said campus spokesman Bill Burton. Figures on freshman enrollment were not provided Wednesday.

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Topics (1):Education

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