Record freshman class pushes enrollment to all-time high

Record freshman class pushes enrollment to all-time high

Members of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's freshman class line up in the shape of an "N" during the New Student Tunnel Walk on Aug. 27. For the second year, enrollment at the university has surged to an all-time high.
Jenni Brost | New Student Enrollment
Members of the university's freshman class line up in the shape of an N during the New Student Tunnel Walk on Aug. 27. For the second year, enrollment at the university has surged to an all-time high.

For the second straight year, enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has surged to a new all-time high.

The university announced Sept. 7 that fall 2016 enrollment is 25,897 students, surpassing the previous enrollment record of 25,260 students that was set last year. The 2.5 percent increase from 2015 is the fourth straight year of enrollment growth and the biggest single-year jump in the number of students since 2007. The university is also enjoying the most diverse student body in its history this autumn.

“As Nebraska’s only land-grant, research-intensive institution, our university is an ever-increasing portal to a more successful, more prosperous, more enriched state. So an enrollment win for the university is a win for the state of Nebraska and beyond,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “We are continuing to attract, retain and engage a rising number of students and are preparing them to contribute to our state and our world.”

The largest incoming freshman class in the university’s history drove the record enrollment. There are 4,860 first-time freshmen on campus this fall, surpassing 1979’s entering class of 4,702.

Colleges leading in the enrollment growth included the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business Administration and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“Our mission to prepare students for today’s fast-changing world is not something that we take lightly, and we are pleased that so many students have chosen to come to Lincoln to take advantage of what the university offers,” said Amy Goodburn, interim dean of enrollment management. “Our enrollment success is a reflection of both the university’s academic momentum as well as its reputation for delivering a positive student experience.”

In the past decade, the university’s overall enrollment has grown by 12.7 percent.

Other highlights from the official 2016 census, which was reported today to the Board of Regents:

  • In addition to its large size, Nebraska’s new first-year class maintains a strong academic profile. Its average ACT score was 25.2, identical to last year’s and slightly below the all-time high of 25.4 in 2014.

  • Enrollment of 2,980 minority undergraduate students – 14.3 percent of the undergraduate total – makes this fall’s undergraduate student body the most diverse in the university’s history. Minority students make up more than 17 percent of this year’s freshman class.

  • In-state students’ interest in the university continues. This fall, there were 3,500 first-time resident freshmen, a roughly 1 percent increase in that category from 2015. For the entire student body, Nebraska-resident students at all levels number 17,766.

  • The university welcomed 2,787 international students, an increase of 263, or 10.4 percent, from last year.

  • Overall, nonresident enrollments increased by 6.7 percent, including 10.2 percent at the undergraduate level. Nonresident students now account for 31.4 percent of all students.

  • In addition to traditionally strong out-of-state markets in South Dakota and western Iowa, the university saw increases in students from Illinois, up 9.8 percent; Minnesota, up 8 percent; and Colorado, up 11.1 percent.

  • Graduate enrollment was steady, from 4,576 in 2015 to 4,567 this year. The College of Education and Human Sciences and the College of Business Administration both increased by more than 50 graduate students.

“It is rewarding to not only experience the university’s steady growth, but to experience its growth in so many ways that are essential to our state, the nation and the world,” said Amber Williams, director of admissions. “The university is a place for diversity as well as diversity of thought, a place for high-achieving students and transformative experiences. We’re looking forward to maintaining this momentum and seeing our contributions to the state of Nebraska continue to grow, as well.”

The fall semester registrations are reported annually to the provost of the University of Nebraska system, based on six-day census figures.

[VIDEO]: Record enrollment for the second straight year
Chancellor Ronnie Green (center) offers some first week advice to freshman Hunter Buresh of Lincoln (right), as he talked with students prior to the Bone Yard Bash and New Student Tunnel Walk on Aug. 27.
Panorama taken during New Student Convocation on Aug. 19 in the Devaney Sports Center.
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