Stetson University enrolled the most undergraduate students in its history for the Fall Semester.
Undergraduate enrollment climbed to 3,150 in September, up from 3,084 a year ago, and included the second-largest class of first-year students in university history, with 895. An additional 294 graduate students are enrolled at Stetson’s DeLand and Celebration campuses.
“It’s a record enrollment,” said Resche Hines, Ph.D., assistant vice president of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Stetson. “It’s the highest enrollment in the history of the institution for total undergraduate enrollment and the second-biggest class of first-year students.”
Stetson College of Law in Gulfport reported 896 students enrolled for the fall, up from 867 a year ago. Across Stetson’s four campuses, total enrollment reached 4,340, up from 4,273 a year ago.
The university conducts an official census each September and reports the enrollment information to the federal government, college guides and other sources.
“We are looking to strategically continue to diversify the student body in a lot of different areas and continue to have a robust, holistic student body that is representative of our local, state and national community,” Hines said.
He noted the university has increased the number of Army ROTC students on the DeLand campus and added an Air Force ROTC program for students this year. Also, last year the university started a Hillel program, providing Jewish cultural and religious experiences to the Stetson community, and expects to attract more Jewish students in coming years.
Stetson’s goal is to maintain an average enrollment for the academic year of about 3,000 undergraduates. That requires enrollment to be slightly higher each fall because typically a small number of students do not return between the fall and spring semesters.
The enrollment figures show retention of first-time-in-college students inched down, with 76.4 percent returning this fall over fall 2017, compared to 78 percent in the prior year. The university has set a goal to retain more than 80 percent of students in coming years.
“This retention, though it’s lower than the last two years, it’s within our historic range,” Hines said. “If you look at our retention over the last 10 years, we’ve been between 76 and 80 percent. … We’re consistently working to move that metric.”