Enrollment has increased for the 14th consecutive year at Oakland University, which is now home to 19,740 students. Of that number, 16,190 are undergraduate students and 3,550 are graduate students — both groups experienced increased enrollment this year, at a rate of 2.2 percent and 0.3 percent.
The university also welcomed larger groups of transfer students and freshmen. This year’s transfer group is the largest to date, with 1,989 students — a 5.2 percent increase from last year. The freshman class, consisting of 2,464, saw an increase of 4.4 percent from last year.
“Oakland continues to attract not only a greater number of students each year, but students with increasingly impressive academic accomplishments,” said OU President Gary Russi in a Sept. 11 statement. “I have no doubt that this comes as a result of the tremendous work our faculty and support staff have done to expand the quality and diversity of the educational opportunities we offer.”
According to Laura Schartman, the director of the Office of Institutional Research, the enrollment growth has been steady for years.
“It’s hard to know what, if anything, is pushing those numbers,” Schartman said. “We’ve had a pretty steady rate of growth, about 1.5 to 2 percent each year. Some years it’s a bigger jump and some years it’s smaller, but it’s been steady since about the mid 90s.”
In addition to the increase in numbers, this year’s freshman class had higher average ACT scores and GPAs than previous classes. The average ACT score was 23.2, and 34 percent of the class had scores above 25. The average GPA was 3.4 and 42 percent of the group had a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
This general academic profile has been accompanied by an increase in the amount of scholarships awarded.
“We do have a lot more scholarship students in the incoming class. Our scholarship numbers in our top four scholarships all increased,” said Eleanor Reynolds, assistant vice president and director of admissions.
Reynolds attributes some of the increases to OU’s strong financial aid offerings.
“When you’re in a time of economic challenges, sometimes universities will pull back a little bit with scholarships because they don’t necessarily have the resources to do that. Oakland does not shy away or pull back. We’ve been committed to recognizing that families need financial support,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also thinks the growth in enrollment is related to OU’s increasingly positive presence in the Oakland and Macomb areas.
“We’ve been successful in getting our story out there: who we are, where we are, the strength of our programs,” she said. “Often times, high school students and parents will look at where the top scholars and athletes go (to college). A lot more of the top students in Oakland and Macomb counties are coming to OU and that influences others.”
According to Schartman, the increases come at a time of challenge for the state, citing both the decreasing demographic of high school graduates and economic challenges.
“There have been fewer high school graduates every year for the last few years, because Michigan’s been hit so hard,” Schartman said. “The pool of students to draw from has been shrinking, but we still managed to pull more.”
Mary Beth Snyder, the vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, is also optimistic about this year’s statistics.
“We’re watching our enrollment grow given the challenges to this area, and at the same time, the academic quality of the student is improving,” Snyder said. “That’s not always easy to do. We feel good about that and think that it will continue.”