ISU Enrollment Down But It They Say They Expected It

TERRE HAUTE, Ind.  – Indiana State University reports that enrollment figures for this year are down and they say that they expected it.

Last fall, enrollment numbers were the highest in campus history, with more than 2,400 freshmen.

Total enrollment is 12,146 for the current academic year.

ISU did show increases in retention, diversity, and academic quality.

Officials say the new admissions approach emphasizes not how many students enroll, but how many graduate with a degree.


cover photo courtesy Indiana State University





A new approach to access: ISU enrollment reflects emphasis on admitting students with better likelihood of graduating


Indiana State University’s new admissions philosophy focusing on student success produced the result university officials expected — a decline in total enrollment. But the institution showed increases in retention, diversity, and academic quality.


Total enrollment is 12,146 for the current academic year.


The change of approach, which reflects best practices nationwide, emphasizes not how many students show up as freshmen but how many walk across the stage at graduation with a degree. That metric is also a priority for the state of Indiana, which has emphasized student success and graduation through performance funding.


Dr. Jason Trainer, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, who joined the university in March, said the institution is committed to graduating a higher percentage of Sycamores. It is no longer just about enrolling a large freshman class.


“Our work is heavily focused on creating environments where students are likely to succeed,” Trainer said. “The stakes for our students and their families are life-changing. We serve a student population that includes a high percentage of first-generation, Pell-eligible and minority students.”


The value of a degree from Indiana State University shows in what students do next.


“Ninety-five percent of all Indiana State graduates are employed or pursuing graduate education within six months of graduation,” Trainer said. “Those graduates are earning an average salary of more than $47,000.”


As the number of high school graduates begins to drop across the nation, it is increasingly difficult to grow enrollments with past practices, Trainer said. ISU’s strategy is a combination of improving retention rates of current students while identifying specific initiatives to target growth of traditional, transfer, graduate, online, and international students.


Students not admitted are encouraged to attend community college and reapply to Indiana State in a year or two.


Some other enrollment statistics compared to last year:


  • One-year retention rate is up 3 percentage points


  • Diversity of the freshman class is up 3 percentage points


  • Grade point averages are up for the incoming freshman class