BGSU enrollment sees drop
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 10:58
Fewer students are attending Bowling Green State University this January than last.
BGSU's enrollment on the main campus is 15,709 undergraduate and graduate students for the spring semester, that's down 2.7 percent from the 16,070 enrolled at the same time last year.
Those numbers are not surprising according to Joe Frizado, Vice Provost for Academic Operations and Assessment. Much of that decline reflects the smaller freshman class that entered in fall. Looking at the decline of 361, he said, "345 of that comes from starting with a smaller freshman class."
While Frizado said the university would always prefer to be reporting higher numbers, there's positives to be seen in the data.
More of those first year students are sticking around. This spring the university retained 91.5 percent of its freshman class, up from 89 percent last year.
"In our world that's a big deal," said university spokesman Dave Kielmeyer.
President Mary Ellen Mazey has stated on several occasions that increasing enrollment is the key to the university's financial health.
The fall-to-spring number is especially important since it gives the university a glimpse of what will happen in terms of retention in the fall.
Frizado says there are indications that certain efforts to help retain students may be working.
Those include the Learning Commons, which provides students with extra help to students. Frizado said it wasn't just struggling students who were taking advantage of the three-year-old program located in Jerome Library, but also students who get good grades and want help to improve them even more. Still it's hard to determine how much an effect that has on keeping students at the university.
Statistics do indicate that those students enrolled in linked courses where they take core subjects with other students in their major are staying at BGSU in higher numbers.
Frizado said that the Math Emporium, established this year in temporary space in Olscamp Hall, is a way to further address academic concerns. Students have the hardest time with math courses, he said. That program "is just ramping up," he said, so administrators are still waiting to see what effect it has.
Also, the university is looking at changing the way it does student advising, he said.
While the numbers released Tuesday, 15 days after the semester began, provide an overview, much of the key data is buried inside.
That's what administrators need to study to determine what is working, Frizado said.
The report said that 13,323 undergraduates, a 2.7-percent drop, and 2,386 graduate students, a 0.5 percent increase, were enrolled at the Bowling Green campus.
A "global" number can only say so much. For instance, the decline in spring also reflects a greater number of students who graduated this winter. That was offset by about 200 more students starting their BGSU careers in spring.
The university, Frizado said, is awarding more degrees than in the past, and getting students through to graduation is the university's ultimate goal.