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People walk in the crosswalk in front of Baker University Center at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, Sept. 8, 2023

OU sees record enrollment for second consecutive year

For the second year in a row, Ohio University reached record enrollment numbers of first-year students for Fall Semester 2023. 

After record-breaking enrollment in the 2022 Fall Semester with 4,441 first-year students, Fall Semester 2023 has brought in 4,516 first-year students, according to a university news release.

OU’s Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace Boeninger emphasized that record-breaking enrollment isn't a priority to the university. 

"We won't bring in a record class year, over year, over year—that isn't the goal," Boeninger said. "The goal is to understand who can benefit from here, (and) how we make them see themselves on our campus."

OU President Lori Stewart Gonzalez said the 2023 first-year students are also of high quality, meaning they have a high grade point average, or GPA.

According to the news release, OU's 2023 cohort has the highest average high school GPA of 3.65. 

"Our students come to us with really high quality, so a high GPA, so that means that they're likely to be successful as an OU student," Gonzalez said. 

There is also an increase in the enrollment of students enrolled in several academic colleges, regional campuses and online courses, as well as an increase in retention rates. 

Gonzalez said the increased retention rates show the high quality and value of the education provided by OU. 

"I think what has happened is we're getting our message out about the total experience at OU," Gonzalez said. "We do that across so many of our experiences … and so we need to lean into that because you get such a return on investment for coming here because it's way beyond just your classroom experiences."

Academic colleges have also seen growth in enrollment, including the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, which set a new enrollment record with 432 first-year students. 

Other colleges at OU with record first-year enrollment include the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Fine Arts, according to the news release.

Enrollment has also continued to grow in the health and science programs across the entire institution. According to the release, OU's College of Health Sciences and Professions has 6,871 total students and 645 new first-year students.

With this growth comes concern about whether there is enough university staff to handle the growing population of students. 

"Right now, there's not been reports (of) shortages of faculty," Gonzalez said. "I think that we're able to accommodate those students because that number (of students) is spread across the entire institution. It's not like 800 students choosing 'major x' because they're spread out across the whole campus."

Although the university has been seeing many increases in different types of enrollment across all campuses, the growth rate for underrepresented groups has remained relatively the same. 

Historically underrepresented groups make up around 15.8% of OU's entire student population of 28,328 for this fall semester.

"The overall number of students from underrepresented groups has increased due to our overall enrollment going up, but remains at the same percentage from last year," Robin Oliver, vice president for communications and marketing, wrote in an email.

Overall enrollment for Fall Semester 2023 on OU's Athens main campus has grown 4.6%, with growth across all campuses increasing by 2.5%, according to the news release.

"Our goal is really more about ensuring successful student outcomes, that we're graduating students and putting them into workforce and graduate programs, and that kind of thing, with a great degree of success that's happening as well, and that will continue to be our focus," Boeninger said.


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