ESU Posts Highest Retention Rate Since 2010, Grows Upperclassmen and Graduate Programs

September 29, 2017

The percentage of last year’s freshmen students who returned this fall for their sophomore year at Emporia State University was 73.2 percent, a significant increase from last year and matching the highest rate since the freshmen class of fall 2010. The number of junior and senior undergraduates also increased, as did degree-seeking graduate students. 

Overall enrollment for Emporia State on Sept. 18, the 20th day of classes for the fall semester, was 5,732, down 150 students from fall 2016. During the 2016-17 academic year, a total of 1,478 students graduated with bachelor’s and advanced degrees, the largest class in the past 10 years.

“Enrollment is an interesting equation,” explained Dr. Shelly Gehrke, assistant provost for enrollment management and academic success. “We need to retain the students we have, replace the students who graduate and recruit additional students in order to grow.”

The 1,068 new undergraduate students in fall 2017 join a Hornet Nation that had a 98 percent placement rate, as reported by the Class of 2016 graduates with bachelor’s degrees who were employed in their field of study or enrolled in postgraduate study. 

In addition to high job placement rates, ESU graduates continue to report lower and declining student debt loads than both state and national averages. Earlier this month in the Best Colleges 2018 Guidebook published by U.S. News and World Report, ESU is ranked No. 2 in lowest student debt of all Midwest regional universities.

The Class of 2017 earning bachelor’s degrees reported an average debt of $20,339. According to the most recent data from The Institute for College Access and Success, students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in May 2015 reported a national average student debt of $30,100. In Kansas for the same period, the average was $28,008. 

“With the combination of the high placement rate and low student debt, our students are poised for success,” said ESU President Allison D. Garrett.

Emporia State University’s high-impact learning approach provides students with hands-on experiences preparing them for careers upon graduation. These practices and others led to Emporia State being the only public university in Kansas to have earned national recognition as a College of Distinction, an honor for universities that demonstrate innovative application of high-impact education. 

ESU has initiated several projects to provide students with additional high-impact learning experiences recognized by Colleges of Distinction, including the Prophet Aquatic Research Outreach Center, Hornet Connected Learning (a one-to-one device-based learning initiative preparing education students to teach effectively with evolving technology) and robust study away opportunities. 

“Emporia State offers a collaborative environment for our students, faculty and community,” says Garrett. “Our diverse curriculum allows for students to gain practical experience in and out of the classroom, develop adaptive leadership skills and take part in an exciting and active campus.”

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