By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
With undergraduate enrollment up 1.2 percent at Bowling Green State University, Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning, has reason to smile.
Ask her about the 16 new students from Vietnam and then she really beams.
Those students are part of one of the trends BGSU is bucking that helped it achieve an increase in enrollment.
The number of international students seeking higher education in the United States has been declining for several years. BGSU’s international enrollment is up 18 percent, mostly undergraduates.
The top countries sending students are China, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia with Vietnam being a new market. There could be more foreign students, said Dean of the Graduate College Margaret Booth. Visas are often taking months longer for students to obtain. What once took one to two-months now can take up to six months in some countries.
A number of those students have already told the university they plan to come in January, she said.
“I am very pleased we have 16 freshmen from Vietnam,” Castellano said. She traveled to Vietnam in April to meet with the prospective students and their families. She feels that the community of Bowling Green as well the university helped bring the students here. It’s a place families feel comfortable sending their offspring.
The university issued its 15th day enrollment report Tuesday, and it showed total student enrollment is 19,540, up from 19,331 in 2017, about 1 percent. BGSU enrolled 6,700 new students
“We’re very pleased with the continued growth in enrollment,” said President Rodney Rogers. Also, enrollment at BGSU’s Firelands campus increased by 1.4 percent to 1,997. “We’re reversing a trend we’ve seen over several years of a decline in two-year regional campuses,” Rogers said.
That number includes more than 200 students taking part in the Pathways program through which students enrolled at Firelands study on the Bowling Green campus as a way of easing their transition to the four-year school.
BGSU now has 14,861 undergraduates compared to 14,682 in fall 2017. The number of graduate students stayed about the same with 2,682.
Booth said there’s more to that number, though. Last academic year the university awarded a 131 more graduate degrees than the previous year. So for the number to remain steady more new graduate students had to be recruited.
Also, Booth said, the university has a new seven-week session. This is used mostly for eCampus courses but is available to other programs. Some professional masters programs are using it.
So Booth expects a bump in enrollment in October.
The university also reported that 77 percent of the students who enrolled in fall, 2017, have returned, marking another continued improvement. That’s crucial for BGSU’s state funding, which is determined on retaining and graduating students.
“Post-traditional” students, any who do not come to higher education directly from high school, are also boosting the universities enrollment. Booth said the university is creating pathways for its masters degrees for professionals to make it easier for them to get degrees.
The university eCampus and distance learning programs are up, Booth said.
BGSU also saw an increase in the number of high school students taking courses through the College Credit Plus program. BGSU now has1,583 students, up 18 percent from last year, enrolled in the program.
Castellano noted that there’s a slight increase in those who are taking those courses on campus — most take them at their high schools. Online courses are also an option.
The university also reported in the press release: “The Class of 2022 is the most academically prepared group of new students for the sixth consecutive year and is trending to have the highest grade-point average in University history at 3.47. Top scholars, those with an ACT score of 27 or higher and a GPA above 3.7, is up in this freshman class by 5 percent over last year.”
Rogers was quoted in the release as saying: “We want to recruit students that can be successful at the University. We’re making tremendous progress. The academic profile of our students, and improving retention rates, helped us achieve the highest four-year graduation rate in University history last year.”