BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University released enrollment numbers yesterday that are down for the third consecutive year.
A total of 19,768 students are on BGSU's two campuses this fall, a drop of 2.3 percent from the 20,228 last year.
The trend is of fewer students on Bowling Green's main campus and more at the regional BGSU Firelands campus in Huron. Main-campus students declined from 17,874 last year to 17,352 this year, a 2.9 percent drop, and Firelands students increased 2.6 percent from 2,354 to 2,416, said Albert Colom, BGSU's vice president for enrollment management.
Carol Cartwright, president of BGSU, said the university has been working to grow its student body since a few unusually large classes came through in recent years.
"We clearly need to rebuild, and this year shows we're in the right places," she said.
That's because the freshman class size was relatively flat, the university is up in full-time students, and diversity is increasing, Ms. Cartwright said.
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"Students are getting the message of optimizing their opportunities to take classes and work in a timely way to graduation," she said.
But the best sign, she said, is better retention of BGSU freshmen for their sophomore year, which is a good indicator of graduation success among those students.
Mr. Colom said that retention rate is up to 74.6 percent from 73.3 percent the year before.
While BGSU has been on a steady enrollment decline, numbers at the University of Toledo and Owens Community College have been going in the opposite direction.
UT has 23,064 students this fall, which is an increase of 3.3 percent from 2008.
And Owens has 23,606 students between its Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses, a 10.8 percent increase from last year.
Both institutions have new scholarship programs that allow students with financial need to attend for free if they meet certain criteria.
UT had about 400 such students take part in its UT Guarantee program, also called the blue and gold scholarship program, and Owens had nearly 250 students in its Owens Success Program.
BGSU has addressed its enrollment decline with the new position filled by Mr. Colom, who was hired in January.
Since then, BGSU has a new personalized approach to students who apply to the university, communicating the possibilities for them if they choose BGSU, Ms. Cartwright said.
And there's a new alert system to help students struggling in the first weeks of classes.
"I think we'll see even greater results from those investments next year," she said.
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