Gains also in doctoral students, ACT average; overall enrollment decreases
MURFREESBORO — Middle Tennessee State University has the largest class of new freshmen and the largest population of new transfer students among the six universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, according to preliminary counts released Monday.
MTSU’s new freshman population increased by almost 2 percent over last year, growing to 3,179 as of the 14th day of classes, the date TBR uses as the system’s enrollment snapshot. The university welcomed 1,907 new transfers, the most of any TBR school.
“We are pleased that our number of new freshmen has increased,” said Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services. “This is good news since, nationally, the number of high school graduates is down, and demographers have predicted a smaller high school graduate population in Tennessee.”
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, a resource for universities in admission forecasting, predicted a decline in Tennessee’s high school graduating class between the 2012-13 and 2015-16 school years.
MTSU’s overall enrollment declined by 5.96 percent compared to Fall 2012 totals. The university reported a headcount of 23,881 for Fall 2013, down 1,513 students from Fall 2012.
However, both the average ACT and the average high school GPA are up for the entering freshman class, Sells said. The ACT average for the Fall 2013 freshman class (22.0) continues to be above the national average (20.9) as well as the Tennessee tested population average (19.5).
This 2013 average is also an increase of almost 0.2 over the 2012 ACT average at MTSU of 21.8, she said. The average high school GPA for the Fall 2013 freshman class (3.35) is above last year's freshmen class (3.31).
“This is great news since the national average ACT decreased in 2013,” Sells said.
The national ACT average was 20.9 in 2013, compared to 21.1 in 2012. Within the state of Tennessee, the average was 19.5 in 2013 versus 19.7 in 2012.
Sells said new transfer and graduate school enrollments are down, primarily due to the improving economy, coupled with the continuing shift in the burden of costs from the state to individual students.
“As students and families become increasingly concerned about costs and debt burden, they become more prone to discontinuing their investment in education in favor of immediate employment opportunities that may arise,” she said.
Michael Allen, vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, also said changes in state policy removing “the link between graduate education and teacher salaries had a significant impact on the number of teachers enrolling in graduate courses.”
A bright spot in the graduate college, Allen said, was that enrollment in doctoral programs has increased: 304 students pursing doctoral degrees this year as compared to 279 last year, which is 25 more students for an 8.96 percent increase.
Allen said the university was pleased to see that MTSU’s newly developed doctoral programs are attracting scholars.
And, despite decreases in new transfer students for the fall term, the number of transfer students enrolled at MTSU is 10,670, which represents 50.42 percent of the undergraduate population.
The top six feeder institutions for all transfers were: Motlow State (1,473); Columbia State (913); Nashville State (908); Volunteer State (846); UT-Knoxville (320); and Southwest (284).
The number of underrepresented minority students at MTSU continues to increase:
· Hispanic enrollment (978) represents 4.1 percent of the total enrollment and is a 5.5 percent increase over 2012.
· African-American students have increased to 5,014, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2012. Freshmen African-American is up 881 vs. 853 (3.3 percent increase). African-American enrollment (5,014) represents 21 percent of total enrollment, and increased 1.6 percent over 2012. African-American first-time freshmen (881) represent 27.71 percent of total first-time freshmen (3,179).
· The total number of minority students enrolled for fall is 7,727 (32.36 percent), which is a 1.94 percent increase in the percentage of minorities of the total population.
International students among MTSU’s newest freshmen increased from 28 students last fall to 58 this fall, for an increase of 107 percent, Sells said. Total number of international students at the undergraduate level increased by 21 percent, from 291 international students to 352.