A stronger than expected freshman retention rate at Anderson University has given a boost to budgeted enrollment numbers. Semester-to-semester retention for first-time freshmen enrolled full-time at the university increased from 87.1% last year to 93% in the current academic year. The university experienced the attrition of 33 first-time, full-time freshmen this year, compared to 70 last year. Retention of upper-division students also increased slightly from 94.5% last year to 94.7% in the current year.
"The university has experienced a significant increase in the semester-to-semester retention of freshman students," said Dr. Michael Collette, vice president for marketing and strategic planning. "This increase can be attributed to the new First Year Experience, the work of academic support staff and the cadre of athletic graduate assistants, and the support efforts of all faculty and staff."
The first year experience, currently in its inaugural year, provides support to new students through peer and faculty mentors, and two classes — the First Year Seminar, offered in the fall, and the Liberal Arts Seminar, offered in the spring.
In addition, the university began a freshman football initiative at the beginning of the school year that pairs freshman football players with faculty and staff mentors. The mentors meet with the student-athletes early in the fall semester, helping the freshmen set goals for their academic and athletic experience, as well as their personal development, spiritual growth, and social engagement while on campus.
"I believe that the football mentor program was an additional layer of care and attention to our football freshmen who were also aided by the work of academic support GAs, football coach GAs, and the First Year experience program," said Dr. Brent Baker, vice president for student life and dean of students. "All of these were new initiatives for this fall, and it seems they are yielding strong results."
"Everyone involved in the retention effort deserves our deep appreciation," said Anderson University President Dr. James L. Edwards. "This increase provides a great platform for the fall and future."
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.