Adams State sees growth in retention, student credit load

(09-19-2014)

Adams State University is making progress in two key areas that contribute to degree completion: first-year student retention and student credit load. The university also set another record in graduate student enrollment: 969, a three percent increase from last year.

The persistence of first-time, full-time students from their freshman year increased ten percent over last fall, to 58.5 percent, according to Dr. Michael Mumper, senior vice president for Enrollment Management & Program Development. He noted 61.9% of first-year student-athletes persisted to their second year. One-third of the undergraduate student body participates in intercollegiate athletics for the Adams State Grizzlies.

Adams State's total enrollment as of the fall census date, Sept. 10, is 2,993, down 3.4 percent from last year. That total includes 2,024 undergraduate students. Mumper pointed out that despite the drop, students are taking more credits, increasing from an average of 13 credit hours to 13.47 credit hours among undergraduates.

"Five years ago, we began a campaign called 'Finish in Four' that urges students to enroll in at least 15 credit hours a semester, which is necessary to graduate in four years. We have seen the average credit load steadily increase since then," Mumper said.

Freshmen make the grade

While this year's freshman class is smaller than last year's, its academic profile continues a trend of improvement, according to Eric Carpio, asst. vice president for Enrollment Management. "We awarded merit scholarships to 41 percent of the new freshmen class, the highest percentage ever," he said. The merit scholarships range from $500 to $1,500, depending on the student's grade point average and test scores. Thirty percent of the freshmen graduated from San Luis Valley high schools.

Commitment to diversity

What's more, Carpio said, the 2014 freshman class is Adams State's most diverse yet. The group of 482 is nearly 40 percent Hispanic, with another 12 percent of other races/ethnicities. The proportion of freshmen who identify as Hispanic increased from 35 percent last year; it was 33 percent in 2012.

Overall, 32.5 percent of Adams State's undergraduate student body identifies as Hispanic. Forty-three percent identify as white, with the remainder representing other races/ethnicities, or unknown. In addition, 49 percent of the undergraduate student body is in the first generation in their families to attend college.

Adams State University was the first four-year institution in Colorado to be federally designated a Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI), which requires a minimum of one-quarter Hispanic enrollment. President Obama and the U.S. Senate are honoring HSIs this week, the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month 2014.

Top major is Business Administration

Business Administration is the most popular undergraduate major at Adams State, with 388 students, followed by Human Performance & Physical Education, with 235. Nursing and Biology are next in popularity, with 151 and 150 students, respectively.

The Master of Arts in Education program recorded a 33 percent increase, largely due to Adams State's Boettcher Teacher Residency program. Offered in collaboration with the Boettcher Foundation and Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC), the program helps prepare teachers for low-income, rural and urban public schools, with a focus on training teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students.

The addition last year of a Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision, which currently has 13 students, also contributed to the new graduate student enrollment record.

By Julie Waechter