Fueled by increases in nearly every student segment, Northern Michigan University's total enrollment is higher this fall despite the challenging demographic climate facing many regional comprehensive institutions nationwide.
NMU's 10th day enrollment report shows increases of almost 10% for new freshmen and 15% for both new transfers and graduate students. These helped to offset the large graduating class in May and boost the total headcount by 3.3%, to 7,197.
"We're very pleased to be in this strong position when that is not the case for so many of our peers,” said NMU President Brock Tessman. “It says a lot about Northern being an attractive option for students from near and far, and supports the value-added factor we work so hard to provide them while they're here. Obviously this positive trend impacts the bottom line and helps us to balance the budget, but the confidence that comes with financial stability also allows for a longer-term strategic vision.”
In addition to the growth in the freshman class, Tessman said he is pleased that persistence and retention rates have also increased. NMU has dedicated more attention and resources to that area, according to Jason Nicholas, assistant provost and director for Institutional Effectiveness.
"During early Covid-19 uncertainties, we saw declining rates of students persisting from semester to semester and not making progress toward their academic goals,” Nicholas said. “There were a lot of factors negatively impacting them. We are now seeing a recovery in these key areas, and in some cases increases in persistence and retention beyond historical highs. This is a positive indicator that programming for student supports and services is doing what we had hoped it would and that those investments are starting to pay off."
Nicholas added that the increase in new freshmen is likely attributed to a variety of factors, including NMU's growing reputation as a campus that prioritizes well-being, academic success and exceptional student experiences inside and outside the classroom. He also noted the impact of programs that enable non-resident students to receive the in-state tuition rate, increased Admissions presence at outreach events, and reports that academic departments are more actively involved in recruitment.
Admissions reports that its counselors consistently share positive feedback from prospective students about Northern's national award-winning marketing materials, which “tell Northern's authentic story in a compelling way” and stand out visually from others.
NMU's online Global Campus enrollment has swelled by about 45%, mostly because of the overlapping increase in graduate students pursuing its applied workforce leadership program as part of grant-funded educational opportunities made available to Michigan teachers.