Ferris State University kicked off its 136th year with 11,165 enrolled students, including 8,193 on its main campus in Big Rapids.
This fall’s total headcount represents a 10.5-percent system wide decrease from the Fall 2019 semester. University-wide, student credit hours declined by 8.8 percent. Beyond the Big Rapids campus, Kendall College of Art and Design’s Fall 2020 enrollment is down 17.6 percent, while student credit hours decreased by 14.5 percent.
“The Fall 2020 enrollment cycle exhibited a high level of uncertainty, particularly amongst our first-time-in-any-college (FTIAC) and new transfers,” said Kristen Salomonson, dean of Enrollment Services. “These students were deciding to enroll or not much later than in a typical year. Enrollment results were consistent with the range we predicted based on our ongoing modeling.”
Current enrollment data shows first-time-in-any-college student numbers increased slightly at KCAD but are down more than 19 percent in Big Rapids, from Fall 2019. Salomonson added, “We are working to decouple the impact of COVID-19 from demographic trends on University enrollment.”
Another factor in the enrollment decline is delays in dual enrollment students due to the fluid situations at Michigan’s high schools, Salomonson said. She emphasized that Ferris’ Fall 2020 fourth-day enrollment count highlights the work of faculty and staff retention efforts in lessening enrollment declines among continuing students. A 2.6-percent decrease is Ferris’ smallest during the past five years. The university made further gains in first-year to second-year retention for bachelor’s degree students from 76 to 79 percent, Salomonson further noted.
Ferris kicked off its 2020-21 academic year in late August with two-plus weeks of activities, Bulldog Beginnings, to welcome new and returning students.