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Students walk through the Athens campus

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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OHIO has another record-breaking year for student enrollment

Academic quality indicators also at record levels


Ohio University is once again home to the largest group of students in the history of the institution, according to preliminary fall enrollment numbers.

The University as a whole, including graduate and undergraduate students enrolled on all campuses and eLearning programs, is up approximately 2.3 percent from last year for an anticipated total of more than 40,000 students. The incoming freshman class of 4,423 is up 1 percent from last year.

Both of these figures, accurate as of the fifteenth day of the semester, are records for the institution and are the most recent in a trend that has seen growth in first-year enrollments for the past four years, and overall enrollment growth for the past nine.

“At a time when many universities are struggling to meet enrollment goals, Ohio University is thriving,” said President Roderick J. McDavis. “The fact that students are interested in pursuing the OHIO experience in record numbers speaks to the success of our community as a whole!”

The Class of 2019

The incoming first-year class, in addition to being the largest, will also be one of OHIO’s most diverse. The class includes a record number of 618 multicultural students, up 1.4 percent from last year, while non-resident students are up 13.1 percent to a record 667.

This freshman cohort likewise excels in key measures of academic quality, hitting a record 3.46 for average high school GPA – up from 3.43 last year – and a record average ACT composite of 24.1, up from 23.9 last year.

“Over the years, we have worked strategically and tirelessly to position Ohio University as the nation’s best transformative learning community,” said McDavis. “Our enrollment gains indicate that prospective students recognize the value of Ohio University and our student-centered approach to learning.”

Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management Craig Cornell indicated that the University’s commitment to student access through cost predictability and affordability resonated with students and their families, and played a role in attracting a diverse group of quality students.

These efforts include the OHIO Signature Awards program, now in its second year. The program bolstered the amount of scholarship funding offered by the University and includes a targeted combination of merit-based scholarships, supportive need-based grants and a set of awards that blend both merit- and need-based criteria.

“We have been able to do something that many institutions would be envious of and that is growing enrollments, quality and diversity – while at the same time seeing growth in first-generation and Appalachian regional students,” said Cornell. “Ohio University has a very strong academic reputation, and students and families from all markets are willing to invest in that promise.”

The Class of 2019 is also the first cohort under The OHIO Guarantee. Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit explained that the Guarantee will play a role in making the costs of attending college more transparent and predictable.  

“The OHIO Guarantee is a level-rate, all-in tuition and fees model that we launched this fall. Families and students tell us that they appreciate the ability to plan for budget costs more precisely,” Benoit said. “Students who choose Ohio University do so with confidence in the quality of our academic programs, and with a clearer understanding of what the costs will be. Once they are here, our fine faculty engage them with challenging and relevant coursework and our dedicated staff help them feel supported and empowered to earn their degrees. To become part of the Bobcat family during college is to be a Bobcat for life."

Strategic growth

Cornell indicated that the University’s Strategic Enrollment Management Plan (SEMP) has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for this success. He worked with departments across campus in 2010 to do a detailed capacity analysis of the institution to ensure that OHIO not only achieves growth, but that it happens in areas with the capacity and need to grow.

“The plan helped establish the goals and trajectories we wanted to accomplish,” he said. “Even though we have surpassed most of the enrollment targets in the plan at this point, it still helps guide areas of concentration and, more importantly, has opened a pretty routine set of communication and coordination efforts across campus.”

Cornell and others in his department work closely with academic departments and colleges to keep the University’s enrollment and recruiting targets up-to-date and to modify strategic goals so that they continue to meet the needs of the institution.

According to Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Candace Boeninger, much of the University’s enrollment success further stems from the hard work and diligent efforts of University employees. This includes not only staff in offices like Undergraduate Admissions, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, and the University Registrar, but the dedicated faculty and staff throughout the University as well.

“It often is the human touch—the staff member who volunteers to stay late to process records by an important deadline or who takes the extra time on a tough phone call to allay a student’s fears—that makes the difference,” she said. “The beauty of our campus may draw the visitors here, but encounters with people who care—especially at multiple levels of the University—continue to be the hallmark of a successful college search process for future Bobcats.”

Other OHIO enrollment records

In addition to those already noted, OHIO anticipates record enrollments in the following areas:

•  Athens Undergraduates – up 289 (1.6%)
•  Athens Graduates- up 19 (0.4%)
•  Athens Medical Students – up 102 (16.7%)
•  Athens eLearning Students- up 46 (0.8%)
•  Regional Higher Education – up 425 (4.3%)