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High school students interested in majoring in Biology gather with their parents to accept scholarships at Scholars Night on January 31.

Undergraduate enrollment and retention rates increase from last Spring

February 9, 2017

Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy credited pro-active actions in recruiting, advising and mentoring programs as responsible for the increase in retention rates and undergraduate enrollment this semester, in comparison to last spring.

Despite some issues last semester for higher education, with budget cuts and a decrease of 42 percent in TOPS payments, Nicholls was still able to increase some enrollment and retention rates.

“We are up two percent in undergraduate enrollment,” Murphy said. “I think that is very positive.”

According to the 14th class day statistics for the Spring 2017 semester, Nicholls has 5,195 enrolled undergraduates, with an increase of 97 undergraduate students in comparison to last spring’s 5,098 undergraduate students.

“We have done a lot of work,” Murphy said. “The admissions office changed the way they go about outreaching to students.”

Murphy explained that a new software for customer relations management has been used to establish and improve the relationships between the Office of Admissions and potential students by engaging each of them individually.

Previously, a student application would be reviewed along with all other student applications, and the answers would be mailed all at one time. Now, each request can be analyzed as they are sent to Nicholls and the student’s waiting time decreases.

“The program is not fully implemented yet and we’ve already seen results from it,” Murphy said.

Another tactic employed was to empower recruiters with the ability to make deals about the amount of the scholarships that are offered to an individual student to a certain extent.

Nicholls administration has also set retention as a goal. Nicholls underwent an accreditation process, in which the university focused on a Student Advising and Mentoring program. SAM is aimed on providing students with the necessary advising and mentoring from freshmen to senior year.

“It includes things like getting a really good relationship with the student the first year, tweaking the University 101 course and having the various department connected with advising in that first semester,” Murphy said.

The university enrollment of full-time students also increased from 4,125 students last spring to 5,156. The number of continuing students has also risen slightly to 4,406 students, with an increase of 52 in comparison to last spring.

Nicholls also added a one-credit probation class to help students with studying skills, tutoring and mentoring in order to assist those with troubles of passing classes to achieve success.

According to Murphy, changes on freshmen level math and English courses, including new approaches to the teaching of subjects by reaching out and engaging students, also contributed to increases in retention rates. Nicholls posted an 87 percent freshman retention rate one year after setting a record-high rate last spring, as reported in the 14th class day statistics.

The increase in the rates of undergraduate students also included an increase of 34 early-admission, 20 cross-enrolled, 14 first-time and seven new-transfer students from last spring. In comparison to a year ago, the number of re-entry and visitor status decreased by 20 and 10 students respectively.

“We have been doing some very targeted things in recruiting and retention, and we think it is paying off in the numbers we are seeing,” Murphy said.

Overall enrolment, including graduate and undergraduate students, increased slightly to 5,763 students, which is up nine from spring 2016.

Despite this fact, Nicholls has continually been working on recruiting for the next semester. One of the recent activities was the Scholars Night, in which high school students with a high grade point average and ACT scores are offered scholarships to attend Nicholls.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase of acceptance of scholarships in the spot,” Murphy said. “It tells you that we had the quantity with the increase, but we also are going to get the quality. This is going to be a great freshmen class.”

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