Biggest freshman class in 35 years pushes enrollment past 25K

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Biggest freshman class in 35 years pushes enrollment past 25K

UNL’s overall enrollment has grown by 15.4 percent since 2005.

Powered by its largest freshman class in 35 years, UNL’s total enrollment reached 25,006 students in fall 2014 – a 2.3 percent increase over last year and the second-highest enrollment in the university’s history.

The 4,652 first-time freshmen represent an increase of 232 students, or 5.2 percent, in the number of freshmen from fall 2013. That’s the second-largest freshman class in UNL’s history and the biggest since 1979, when 4,702 first-time students were enrolled.

“It has been a campus-wide priority to increase enrollment and it is pleasing to see the continuing results of these efforts,” said Chancellor Harvey Perlman, who has set a goal for UNL to raise its enrollment to 30,000 students by 2020. “Our growth as a university is a reflection of our upward trajectory not only in enrollment but in energy, optimism and ambition.”

UNL’s overall enrollment has grown by 15.4 percent since 2005. The all-time high for overall enrollment is 25,075 in 1982.

This fall, the university also saw an overall increase in undergraduates over last year – 19,979 total, or an increase of 603 students (3.1 percent).

The College of Engineering led all UNL colleges in the highest percentage of undergraduate enrollment growth, increasing by 8.5 percent. Engineering was followed by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications (8.0 percent), the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (6.6 percent) and the College of Business Administration (4.8 percent).

“It is particularly gratifying to see increases at the College of Engineering because of the demand for this talent in Nebraska,” Perlman said.

Alan Cerveny, dean of enrollment management, said that crossing the 25,000-student threshold was noteworthy but the university remains focused on its long-term enrollment goals.

“The growing national attention UNL is receiving is rewarding and I am particularly pleased by the increased interest we’ve seen this year from Nebraska students, from Scottsbluff to Omaha,” he said. This fall, first-time freshman Nebraska residents number 3,497 – a 5.4 percent climb from last year.

“We take our role in preparing the next generation seriously, so it is gratifying to see so many prospective students choosing to attend UNL,” said Amber Williams, director of admissions. “Our first-year class is a reflection of the university’s academic programs and our success in attracting resident and non-resident students.”

Other highlights from the official 2014 UNL census, which was reported today to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents:

  • UNL’s enrollment of 2,523 minority undergraduate students – 12.6 percent of the undergraduate total – makes this fall’s undergraduate student body the most diverse in school history.

“As demographics continue to shift, it is important UNL reflects the growing diversity of Nebraska and the country,” Williams said. “We’re pleased our efforts to recruit students from all backgrounds has led to a more diverse campus.”

  • The university welcomed 2,485 international students this fall – an increase of 359 students (16.9 percent). There are 1,515 undergraduate and 970 graduate and professional students from other countries.

  • Overall, nonresident enrollments increased by 8.6 percent, including 14.2 percent at the undergraduate level. Nonresident students now account for 29 percent of all students at UNL.

  • In addition to traditionally strong out-of-state markets in South Dakota and western Iowa, the university experienced increases of students from Minnesota (19.1 percent), California (10.8 percent) and Illinois (25.1 percent).

  • Though larger than last year’s, UNL’s new freshman class maintains a strong academic profile. This year’s average freshman ACT score of 25.4 ties the record for the highest average in school history, set in 2012.

  • Graduate enrollment of 4,517 represented a slight dip (0.8 percent) from 2013.

  • The average credit-hour load for undergraduates is 13.8, consistent with last year.

The fall semester registrations are reported annually to the provost of the NU system, based on six-day census figures from each of the four NU campuses’ Institutional Research and Planning offices. For more details, see

UNL's class of 2018 gathered the week before the start of fall semester at Memorial Stadium.
Craig Chandler | University Communications
UNL's class of 2018 gathered at Memorial Stadium the week before the start of fall semester.

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