ISU enrollment tops 20,000 for 16th straight year
NORMAL (MCT) — Fall enrollment at Illinois State University has topped 20,000 for the 16th consecutive year.
Thursday’s release of 10-day enrollment figures shows 20,502 students — exactly where ISU officials say they want to be.
“We are right where we want to be,” said President Al Bowman. “The ideal number is 20,500.”
The Illinois State University board of trustees’ policy is to hold enrollment between 20,000 and 21,000 students so the university can maintain a 19-1 student/faculty ratio.
Bowman said that when enrollment exceeds 21,000, students can’t always get first choice in their major courses and there isn’t enough on-campus housing.
To control the numbers, Bowman said the university admits fewer freshmen and graduate students.
“We are in a comfortable position,” he said. “Four freshmen apply for every freshman seat.”
That is occurring despite a shaky economy and the fact that there are fewer 18-year-olds, he said.
“Even with increased competition for fewer students and the challenging economy, Illinois State continues to be successful in attracting high-achieving students,” he said.
Jonathan Rosenthal, associate provost for undergraduate education, said ISU’s freshman class has an average ACT score near 24 and an average high school grade point average of 3.37.
“In a competitive recruiting environment, the fact that we’re able to attract and enroll such high-quality students signals the strength of Illinois State,” Rosenthal said.
The freshman class also is more diverse: Minority students comprise 21.6 percent, a jump from 18.9 percent last year. The largest increase is in the additional 52 Hispanic students in the freshman class, a 23 percent rise from last fall.
Bowman credits ISU’s success in attracting students to several factors. They include: the university’s reputation and nationally ranked programs; its new facilities, including the recreation center, Cardinal Court and the College of Business; and its targeted recruitment effort, especially in the Chicago area.
Another key is the community, he said, especially uptown Normal.
Other state universities aren’t faring as well. Earlier this week, Eastern Illinois University reported its 10-day fall enrollment is 10,417, down 761 from last year. Enrollment at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is down for the eighth straight year, with the 10-day fall enrollment of 18,847, down 970 from last year.