Record applications, brighter students and new facilities factor in to Ball State fall enrollment

Topics: Administrative, Honors College

October 4, 2007

Ball State saw more than 13,000 students apply to attend the university this fall and eventually realized a total enrollment of nearly 20,000 students.

The total on-campus enrollment was 16,928 - or 457 fewer students than took classes on-campus last year. However, factoring in students attending classes off-campus, such as through distance teaching programs, raises enrollment to 19,849. Though total enrollment dropped 181 students from the previous year, the reasons for the decline were expected. Ball State administrators are tightening enrollment as part of a strategic decision to manage the size of its freshman class and enhance the university's selectivity.

For example, the average SAT score of this year's freshman class was significantly higher than the previous year.

"Applications for admission to this fall's incoming class topped 13,000 - a 21 percent increase over last year and 32 percent more than 2005," Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora said. "Even more striking than those numbers is the 23-point gain in average SAT scores for this freshman class over their predecessor in 2006.

"In addition, the Honors College will welcome a larger class - a 19.1 percent gain over their 2006 enrollment," added Gora. "Our efforts to attract and retain high-achieving students are indeed paying off."

Interestingly, Ball State's initiatives to provide students with a more vibrant and supportive campus also are paying off. For example, despite slightly lower enrollment numbers, Ball State now has 230 more students living on campus than in 2006. One factor leading to the increase is the opening of Park Hall, a unique, functional and technologically advanced living space designed purposely to attract and retain students, which opened this fall.

The $32 million building, the university's first new residence since 1969, provides high-tech accommodations for more than 500 students. The 164,000-square-foot residence hall has 290 rooms and offers students privacy while encouraging interactivity.

"Our focus is on providing facilities that bright, creative and high-achieving students expect - indeed demand - of a leading American university in the 21st century," Gora said.

In addition to Park Hall, the university also has renovated Woodworth Commons, an outdated dining facility that offered limited fare. Now Woodworth Commons features an expanded dining area toWoodworth Commons seat about 550, open food preparation courts, a two-story atrium and cozy dining areas interspersed throughout.

And on Sept. 7, Ball State dedicated the $21 million David Letterman Communication and Media Building, which advances the university's efforts to provide immersive learning opportunities for undergraduates by placing the latest production and post-production technology at their fingertips.

Strategically, the university is seeking high-achieving students because of its focus on immersive learning.

"This is the cornerstone of what we do. It is the best preparation we can give our students as they enter a world of global competition and constant change - a truly interdisciplinary world," Gora said. "Our focus on immersive learning simply takes a long, proud tradition of experiential, interdisciplinary learning created by student-centered faculty and intensifies it."

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