For the Media

OHIO sees 17 percent growth in its incoming class, breaking records in academic quality and diversity

With the release of preliminary student census data, Ohio University is celebrating a larger, more diverse, and more academically accomplished incoming class for fall 2021.

The University also saw growth in select online programs, record applications in the University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, an increase in student retention at OHIO’s regional campuses, and record enrollment in key professional programs.

“Ohio University has long been known for offering a unique, experience-based education on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country,” Ohio University President Hugh Sherman said. “I believe students are choosing OHIO because we work hard to ensure their time here delivers a rewarding career after school, as well as a lifelong network of Bobcat friends and supporters.”

OHIO welcomed 3,664 first-year students, a 17.2% increase from the 2020 class and a return to pre-pandemic enrollment levels despite continued pandemic impacts and a highly competitive environment. The class again set a record for its average GPA since the University began tracking that metric, with an average of 3.59 on a 4.0 scale, and more than half of the University’s incoming students reporting class rank were in the top 25th percentile of their graduating high school class.

The academic quality of the class was driven in part by interest in OHIO’s nationally distinctive and highly competitive Honors Tutorial College, which saw its own record enrollment with 107 high-achieving students selected to enroll in the unique tutorial experience. In addition, the experiential learning-based OHIO Honors Program saw substantial growth. Nearly 8 percent of enrolled Athens undergraduates are now engaged in OHIO Honors, and a pilot is underway to bring the program to regional campuses beginning this academic year.

The incoming class also saw increases in diversity in several areas, including an increase of almost 5% in the number of students identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, a record percentage of African American students, and growth in domestic and international non-resident students. The number of students identifying as African American students grew more than 60 percent over the previous year, making up 6.5 percent of the incoming class.

The incoming first-year class brings 14 percent more Ohio residents than fall 2020, and non-resident enrollment grew as well. Non-resident students comprise a record 16.6 percent of the first-year class. The University exceeded its pre-pandemic international enrollment in the first-year class by 28 percent, due in part to increased in-country recruitment activities in India.

OHIO also set new records in undergraduate program enrollment in the College of Business and the College of Fine Arts. A total of 584 incoming students are pursing degrees in the College of Business, a 61 percent year-over-year increase, and 223 new students entered as artists, designers, musicians and performers in the College of Fine Arts.

“We are proud to welcome an ever-more-diverse and accomplished cohort in our class of 2025, and we know they’re positioned to grow and thrive at OHIO,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace Boeninger said. “The pandemic made the college search significantly more challenging for students and their families, and I admire the resilience and persistence of this class. I’m grateful as well for the countless faculty, staff, OHIO students, and alumni who pitched in, both virtually and in person, to help showcase our University and all it offers during an enrollment cycle like no other.”

While the overall number of students enrolled in the University fell slightly to 28,770, due in part to the graduation of the larger incoming class in 2017 and smaller incoming classes through 2020, other areas showed growth. Graduate student enrollment held nearly steady year-over-year, with a significant rebound in Athens campus-based enrollment.

In addition, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine received a record number of applications and set a record in terms of incoming average GPA at 3.68. Of the incoming class, 17 percent were the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree, and 93 percent were from Ohio.

Continuing student retention held strong at 81.3% on the Athens campus and OHIO’s regional campus retention rate grew more than a full percentage point year-over-year.

Finally, undergraduate online programs outside of OHIO’s large RN-to-BSN program saw a 12 percent year-over-year new student enrollment increase.

September 8, 2021
Staff reports