Northwestern State University has reported a record enrollment this fall of 11,447, an increase of 547 students, or 5 percent, over last year’s total of 10,900.
Dr. Chris Maggio, who has served as president of Northwestern since 2017 during a period when the university reached the four highest enrollments in its 136-year history, said the current record registration “is remarkable and especially gratifying in the midst of the global pandemic.”
Maggio said this year’s enrollment increase “reflects both the extraordinary effectiveness of the faculty and staff in continuing to provide quality instruction and services during the health crisis and the resilience and perseverance of our students in overcoming monumental challenges.”
Northwestern’s all-time high student registration goes against numerous projections of substantial enrollment losses at colleges and universities nationwide. Higher education research and marketing firm SimpsonScarborough has predicted enrollment losses of up to 20 percent because of coronavirus-related issues.
Fitch Ratings, one of the nation’s three major statistical rating organizations along with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, projected enrollment declines of 5 percent to 20 percent.
Among the highlights of NSU’s record enrollment were increases in the number of graduate students and freshmen retention. Graduate School registration this fall is 1,150, an increase of 83 students or 7.8 percent over last year. The retention rate for full-time first-year students increased from 70 percent to 74 percent. For the fourth consecutive year, entering freshmen enrollment has been over 1,500 students.
“I want to thank Director of Enrollment Services Jana Lucky and the enrollment management team for their work over the past several months,” said Maggio. “They did an excellent job of maintaining contact with prospective students despite the lack of in person visits and on campus recruiting events and showed them why Northwestern was the right choice for them.”
Northwestern transitioned quickly and smoothly to offering all classes online last March as the pandemic grew and conducted virtual commencement programs for students who completed academic requirements for graduation under that new format.
Beginning this fall, the university is providing in-person instruction, online classes and hybrid classes offering both in-person and virtual learning. Extensive procedures and protocols have also been established to help protect the health and safety of NSU students, faculty and staff and the community.
Maggio said, “These exceptional efforts to provide opportunities for students to continue progressing toward degrees in various modes of learning and in a safe and healthy environment have certainly been a major factor in the record enrollment this fall.”
The NSU president also noted that the university has worked diligently to assist students who have faced financial difficulties because of job losses, business closures and other economic issues that have negatively affected them and their families during the pandemic.
He stated, “Our Office of Financial Aid has provided assistance to numerous students to help them find ways to continue their education in these difficult times. Also, alumni and friends of the university have generously contributed to a COVID-19 relief fund at the NSU Foundation that has helped a number of our students. This financial support made the difference in many students being able to continue their education at the university.
Academic programs showing strong year-over-year growth included radiologic sciences, biology, veterinary technology, business administration, criminal justice, child development and family relations, elementary education, nursing, RN to BSN, psychology and social work.