Cut in first-year enrollment leads to an increase in diversity

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Katharine Quilty

 

The 2014 first-year class is the most diverse in the history of Illinois Wesleyan University, despite the cut in enrollment.

“International admits grew by 38 percent, 188 to 260,” said Dean of Admissions Tony Bankston. “There is no group that is being admitted ‘less’ to accommodate for another group being admitted ‘more.’”

Higher admittance of international students is becoming a national trend. “A majority of colleges in the U.S. are seeing growth in international students while domestic numbers remain relatively flat or in decline,” said Bankston.

According to iwu.edu, the entering class is comprised of 5 percent black students, 0.3 percent Native American students, 5 percent Asian or Pacific Islander students, 6 percent Hispanic students, 74 percent white students, 1 percent multiracial students and 4 percent students who identify as another race or ethnicity.

Colleges have to compete with one another more than ever, now, to attract new students due to less prospective students. “Currently, high school graduate numbers are the lowest they have been for many years,” says Dean of Admissions, Tony Bankston. Illinois Wesleyan’s enrollment dropped by about 0.9 percent.

According to insidehighered.com, recent report’s findings show that the number of graduates will fall in the immediate term, settle at about 3.3 million graduates a year by 2014 and begin to grow gradually starting in 2020, but at nowhere near the rate seen from 1997 to 2011.

A 2013 US News article states that about 72 percent of public school students from the class of 2008 graduated on time, a 6 percentage-point increase from the 1997 rate, and a 3 percentage-point increase from the 2007 rate. The reported graduation rate is the highest it’s been since the mid-1980s.

This does not necessarily indicate a drop-off in the number of college-going students. Despite the decline, there is a growing emphasis at the state and national level on increasing the number of students who complete high school and college, including non-traditional students such as displaced workers and adult students looking to finish degrees.

Many students who are the target of such efforts lack the money or good high school preparation that colleges have counted on for past generations of students

Bankston said that the IWU admissions office has to consider how they can adequately match their available resources to enroll the class they want. An economic downturn may have affected the ability of some students to attend.  Despite the downturn, “we came very close to our enrollment projections,” said Bankston.

While the 2014 first-year class is smaller than expected by one percent, “It is also the most diverse in the 164-year history of Illinois Wesleyan,” said Bankston.