Middle Tennessee State University has the largest class of new freshmen and transfer students among the six universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, according to preliminary counts released Monday.
The number of new freshmen increased by almost 2 percent over last year, growing to 3,179 as of the 14th day of classes, the date the Board of Regents uses as the system’s enrollment snapshot. The university welcomed 1,907 new transfers, the most of any other state school.
“We are pleased that our number of new freshmen has increased,” said Debra Sells, vice president for the Office of Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services. “This is good news because, nationally, the number of high school graduates is down, and demographers have predicted a smaller high school graduate population in Tennessee.”
However, both the average ACT and high school grade point average are up for the entering freshman class, Sells said.
This 2013 average is also an increase of almost 0.2 over the 2012 ACT average at MTSU of 21.8, she said. While the average high school GPA for the fall 2013 freshman class is also better than last year.
“This is great news because the national average ACT decreased in 2013,” Sells said.
Despite the increase, the university’s overall enrollment declined by 5.96 percent compared to fall 2012 totals. MTSU reported a headcount of 23,881 for the fall 2013 semester, down 1,513 students from fall 2012.
Sells said new transfer and graduate school enrollments are down, primarily due to the improving economy, coupled with the continuing shift in the burden of costs from the state to students.
“As students and families become increasingly concerned about costs and debt burden, they become more prone to discontinuing their investment in education in favor of immediate employment opportunities that may arise,” she said.
Michael Allen, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, also said changes in state policy removing “the link between graduate education and teacher salaries had a significant impact on the number of teachers enrolling in graduate courses.”
A bright spot in the graduate college, he said, was that enrollment in doctoral programs has increased.
And, despite decreases in new transfer students for the fall term, the number enrolled at MTSU is 10,670, which represents 50.42 percent of the undergraduate population.