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Enrollment numbers decline slightly at ND colleges, universities

FARGO -- Fall enrollment numbers are in at North Dakota colleges and universities. Total numbers are down slightly at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science. Still, UND is seeing an...

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FARGO - Fall enrollment numbers are in at North Dakota colleges and universities. Total numbers are down slightly at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science. Still, UND is seeing an increase in student diversity and grade-point average, NDSU's numbers remain largely stable, and NDSCS' Wahpeton campus increased enrollment by 2.6 percent over last year.


University of North Dakota

Total enrollment at UND is down 2 percent, this year at 14,648 from last fall's enrollment of 14,951. Undergraduate enrollment at 11,255 students is down 2.8 percent. A press release attributed the decrease to the university's focus on quality, the elimination of several programs due to budget reductions and increasing graduation rates paired with larger graduating classes.

Despite the decrease, UND is calling its fall enrollment numbers evidence it has taken on the most "academically prepared and diverse freshman class" yet.


This year's freshman class of 1,928 is the largest since 2012 and is also reportedly the most diverse group of incoming freshmen in UND's history, with 10.8 percent of freshmen, 209 students, identifying with ethnicities other than white/Caucasian, a 14.8 percent increase over last fall.

This year's UND freshman class has an average high school GPA of 3.46 and average ACT score of 24.0. Last fall's averages were a 3.42 GPA and ACT score of 24.0. In total, 51 percent of UND's currently enrolled freshman class had a high school GPA above 3.5. This is the fourth consecutive year UND has seen an increase in average freshman GPA. The average freshman ACT score has been stable or increased over the past five years.

Thomas DiLorenzo, UND provost and vice president of academic affairs, said several years ago, administrators decided to prioritize increasing the quality of students attending UND.

"We anticipated having a dip in enrollment as the larger classes graduated and smaller, yet stronger, academic classes enrolled," he said. "You're faced with a decision of being the biggest or the best," said UND President Mark Kennedy. "My goal is to have UND be the best."

Kennedy said that recruiting better-prepared students will help the university meet expectations for increasing retention and graduation rates. Prioritizing quality and student success has resulted in the third consecutive year with first-year retention rates at 80 percent or higher, the press release said. UND graduate and professional student enrollment is up slightly over last fall. Official graduate enrollment at 2,872 students is up 10 students over last fall. There are 2,066 students enrolled in master's programs, 646 enrolled in doctorate programs and another 160 enrolled in special programs.

North Dakota State University 

North Dakota State University NDSU's official fall 2016 enrollment is down just less than 1 percent from last year, with a total of 14,432 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Last year's fall enrollment totaled 14,516 students, according to a press release. "Our enrollment continues as planned, via careful and intentional retention efforts, graduate student recruitment and undergraduate recruitment," said Provost Beth Ingram, adding that NDSU's student academic profile remains steady.

"This year's class of new students had the same impressive grade-point average and ACT scores as the class of 2010," she added.


This year, 50 percent of incoming students had high school GPAs of 3.5 or higher, and 29 percent had a high school GPA of 3.75 or higher. The overall ACT average is 23.89. NDSU recommends a grade point of 2.75 and ACT score of 22 or higher for admission. Last year's class of 2,552 incoming students was the third largest in NDSU history.


North Dakota State College of Science

Fall enrollment at NDSCS surpassed 3,000 students for the sixth consecutive year this fall semester, with enrollment at the college's Wahpeton campus showing a 2.6 percent increase over 2015. Overall, fall enrollment for Wahpeton, Fargo, online and early-entry students totals 3,003, a 4 percent decrease from fall 2015, when enrollment was at 3,123. There are 1,349 students enrolled in Wahpeton, up from 1,315 last year, according to a press release. NDSCS President John Richman said the college is continuing to prioritize growing enrollment at its Wahpeton campus, which saw the number of students living on campus increase by 4 percent over last year. Just more than 1,000 of its students live in campus residence halls, family housing and apartments. The 2016 student body comprises 1,982 freshmen and 1,021 sophomores. The number of students enrolled full time at NDSCS has grown by 3.5 percent from 1,694 in 2015 to 1,753 in 2016. The number of North Dakota students is 2,056, representing 48 of the state's 53 counties. There are 431 students taking at least one class at the Fargo campus, a 2 percent increase over 2015. A breakdown of total enrollment shows 280 students taking classes only at the Fargo campus and 207 taking classes exclusively online. There are 483 students taking classes at multiple NDSCS locations, or through a combination of in-person and online instruction.

The number of high school students taking early-entry classes through NDSCS has decreased by 17 percent to 684 from 825 in 2015. "While we are seeing fewer high school students enrolled in our early-entry classes this fall, traditional students are recognizing the value of a two-year education - including the 99 percent placement rate of our graduates," Richman said.

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