Online programs, College Credit Plus provide pathway for BGSU enrollment growth

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Bowling Green State University is doing well attracting more students, and holding onto them once they enroll.

The university released its 15-day enrollment report last week. It showed that total enrollment increased 1.7  percent, to 18,766, graduate and undergraduate students on both the Bowling Green and Firelands campuses. Total enrollment in Bowling Green is up 1.5 percent to 16,799.

Cecilia Castellano, vice president for enrollment management, said the growth comes in a lot of ways. 

Both the ecampus and distance learning programs are seeing increases, and the university now has more than 2,000 students taking courses through the College Credit Plus program, an increase of about 10 percent over last year.

Those students are taking courses online, on campus, or in their high schools. 

The number of graduate students is down by 21 students, or just under 1 percent.

Not many graduate students initially enroll for the spring semester, and the number of graduate students who graduated in December increased.

While graduate students on campus decreased by 236, or 11.6 percent, to 1807, that was made up by increases in those taking courses online, the report showed.

Castellano said she expects those numbers to increase as new professional graduate programs kick in next fall.

The 3.7 percent  increase in Firelands enrollment bucks the usual trend of two-year schools having declining enrollment when the economy is strong.

Driving that growth, Castellano said, is the Pathways program, which brings Firelands students to the Bowling Green campus, where they take a certain set of courses taught by Firelands faculty. The program is intended to help them successfully transition in bachelor’s degree programs at BGSU.

When it started in fall 2014, 19 students were enrolled. The program now has 215 students.

“The faculty at Firelands and the support services  that we’re providing are really helping to ensure those students are successful,” she said. “We’re seeing the persistence of that group being very similar to the Bowling Green campus.”

Persistence counts the number of first-time, full-time students who enter in the fall semester who continue on into the spring semester.

That rate was 91.2 percent. That’s in line with what’s been reported the last couple years. The university is hoping to increase its retention rate, which measures how many students return after their first year, to 80 percent. Last fall it was 77 percent.

The university is making a concerted effort to increase efforts to retain students.

Thomas Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost, updates the university trustees regularly on those efforts that target groups of students in danger of not returning. Those include: students who are the first generation in their family to attend college; commuting students; students from under represented ethnicities; and those with financial need.

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