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OHIO University Hits New First Year Student Enrollment Record

College Gateway, Ohio University. Courtesy Ohio University

Article Presented By Kingston National Bank…

(Athens) – As Ohio University moves into its third week of classes for the fall semester, preliminary enrollment census numbers are in and OHIO’s total enrollment climbed with another record-setting first-year class in Athens, significant growth in incoming student enrollment on regional campuses, increases in new online and transfer student populations, and a remarkable climb in first-to-second-year student retention University-wide.

President Lori Stewart Gonzalez, who began her term as OHIO’s 23rd President July 1st, said she believes the growth is ultimately about students choosing an experience that will set them up for success. “Our University has really doubled down on delivering the kind of high-value, real world experiences that prepare students for successful careers while also controlling costs and ensuring students can complete their degree on schedule,” Gonzalez said.

“It’s about value, and it’s about place,” she said. “We offer an immersive, college-town experience in Athens with an atmosphere that is unmatched in Ohio; or students in the region who want to stay in their community can pursue a degree on one of our regional campuses; and we have robust online offerings for students who want to access an OHIO degree without the commute.”

Athens campus welcomes another record first-year class, growth in transfer students

OHIO’s fall 2023 first-year cohort on the Athens campus tipped over the 4,500 mark this year, beating the fall 2022 all-time record of 4,441 with 4,516 incoming students. The incoming class boasts students from all 88 Ohio counties, 37 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The University also saw significant growth in students from neighboring West Virginia, with more than 100 new first-year Bobcats hailing from the mountain state, a 66 percent increase over last year.

The class includes a record number of entering first-year students who will be the first in their family to earn a degree, at 1,138 or 25.5 percent of the class. The proportion of Athens campus Pell-eligible enrolled freshmen grew to 23.5 percent, an almost 3 percent increase year over year.

The incoming Athens cohort is once again the highest achieving class in the University’s 219 year history with the average incoming high school GPA rising to 3.65. The University also saw a nearly 12 percent increase in students choosing to transfer to the Athens campus from a community college or another university.

Student retention climbs in Athens and on regional campuses

OHIO’s student retention from first to second year increased 3.8 points to 82.7 percent. Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs pointed to two changes in recent years that may have contributed to retention increases. The first is the launch of the University’s Guarantee+ Graduation Plans, which ensure students graduate on-time and on-plan by working one-on-one with students to plan their four-year experience from the beginning of their time at OHIO. In addition, the University brought together its advising, experiential learning, and career networking teams, which along with faculty mentoring, provides students with comprehensive planning around their total academic experience.

“We’ve been very intentional in restructuring our teams to support student success in a more unified way,” Sayrs said. “I believe we are seeing the impact of the Guarantee+ Graduation Plans coupled with the outstanding work of our faculty, and we are confident that increasing retention rates over time will translate to continued increases in four-year graduation rates and career placement rates.”  

On OHIO’s five regional campuses in Lancaster, Chillicothe, Ironton, Zanesville and St. Clairesville, retention also went up 10.8 points to 63.8 percent. The Guarantee+ Graduation Plan program will launch on all regional campuses this fall.

Double-digit new student growth on regional campuses

In addition to climbs in retention, OHIO’s regional campuses saw a rebound for new first-year students, enrolling 731 students across the system, a 14 percent increase over fall 2022. The growth follows a refocusing of program offerings on OHIO’s regional campuses to meet regional workforce needs, resulting in growth in in-demand fields such as business and nursing. Regional students committed to their communities also benefitted from new programs designed to increase their access to and success at the University, including the OHIO Regional Promise. The Regional Promise Award covers the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees for incoming first-year, full-time, regional campus students who are Pell-eligible and have earned a minimum high school GPA of 3.0. 

Continued strong enrollments in medicine and health sciences

Ohio University educates more of the state’s healthcare providers than any other University, and the University saw continued growth in enrollment across its health sciences programs in Athens, on regional campuses and online. Total enrollment for OHIO’s College of Health Sciences and Professions came in at 6,871 enrolled students across all campuses. The college welcomed a record incoming class in Athens at 645 new first-year students. 

Total enrollment at OHIO’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine stands at 996 across its three-campus medical school, a slight increase over the prior year. The Heritage College is the state’s largest provider of primary care physicians with campuses in Athens, Dublin and Cleveland. 

Record new student enrollment in several academic colleges

The University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology has set a new student enrollment record in Athens with 432 first-year students. This fall, the college will open the Russ Research and Opportunity Center, which will serve as a home to several of the college’s centers and institutes working on applied solutions to some of the region and nation’s most significant engineering challenges. The College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Fine Arts also welcomed record incoming first-year classes in fall 2023. 

Growth in online new student enrollment

OHIO saw nearly a 12 percent growth in new student enrollment in its online undergraduate programs. The growth included significant enrollment increases for the University’s online AACSB-accredited Bachelor of Science in Business, the Russ College’s new Bachelor of Science in Project Management, and Interior Architecture in Fine Arts. The University also saw a return to new student enrollment growth in OHIO’s popular, accredited online RN-to-BSN program, which is the University’s oldest and largest undergraduate online program. The University also saw growth in select online master’s programs including Chemistry, Social Work, and Health Administration.

In the Fall of 2022, OHIO hired its first Vice Provost for OHIO Online, and the University expects continued expansion of its online program portfolio. In 2023, Newsweek ranked OHIO No. 1 among Ohio universities for online education. 

Total Enrollment Growth

Ohio University’s total preliminary enrollment for Fall 2023 came in at 28,324, a growth of 2.5 percent. This increase includes 4.6 percent growth in total enrollment on the Athens campus.

“We are honored that, across all our campuses and online, so many students and their families continue to place their trust in the value of an Ohio University degree,” said Candace J. Boeninger, vice president for Enrollment Management. “There is no doubt that OHIO’s continued enrollment success is driven by our focus on distinctive and in-demand academic programs, but these numbers also reflect the dedication of talented faculty and staff who strive every day to ensure that students have the support they need to enroll and to succeed at Ohio University.”