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By Linda Wilkins
Assistant City Editor
Following a year of triumph, Baylor has progressed to a new height this year — overall enrollment.
Baylor’s current enrollment, 15,364 students, is the highest in Baylor’s history.
Last year, the overall enrollment was 15,026 students.
The incoming class was also close to setting the record for the largest incoming class at Baylor with 3,254 students, only five short of the incoming class of 2010, which set the record with 3,259 students.
Baylor is becoming attractive to more students across the nation, said Sinda Vanderpool, the assistant vice provost for academic enrollment management.
“The demand for a Baylor education on the national market is increasing. As we launch Pro Futuris and look to build on our successes, one of our goals is to increase our national profile. We are seeing more and more students,” Vanderpool said.
Baylor’s progress over the past decade, which has included the renovation of campus buildings and the addition of new academic programs, is one reason for the increase in enrollment, said Lori Fogleman, director of media communications at Baylor.
“We greatly enhanced our student life and our academic experiences,” she said.
Fogleman said the environmental science, health policy and electrical computer engineering programs are a few of the academic programs Baylor has added.
While Baylor has grown larger in class size and program number, Fogleman said Baylor has not grown just for the sake of expanding.
“As an institution, we are committed to our faith, committed to educational excellence, leadership and excellent teaching, while producing groundbreaking research,” Fogleman said.
In addition, the students admitted to Baylor are prepared academically and have a sense of what Baylor community is, Fogleman said.
Vanderpool said Baylor wants to accept students that are well prepared academically and admit students who can successfully graduate.
“It’s really exciting for Baylor. Students can be proud because we were able to recruit a large class and a high-achieving class as well,” Vanderpool said.
The retention rates for freshmen have also increased, Vanderpool said.
The rate of retention refers to the number of freshmen students who stay enrolled at Baylor for their sophomore year.
For the 2011 freshman class, 86.6 percent of those freshmen returned to Baylor this year, which is an increase from 85.4 percent for the incoming class of 2010.
Retention rates are important because they indicate the number of students who will most likely remain at Baylor until they graduate.
Vanderpool said freshman year is a critical time in the life of the student because it is the time when they develop friendships and become involved in activities.
“We do focus a lot of attention on first-year students,” Vanderpool said. She said orientation, Line Camp and Welcome Week are a few of the activities that can influence a student’s decision to stay.
In addition to high retention rates, the incoming class was also high-achieving.
Vanderpool said the incoming class has the second-highest average SAT and ACT scores with 1234 and 26.9, respectively.
Last year’s incoming class held the record for the highest average scores with an average SAT score of 1236, although the class was also smaller.
The out-of-state student percentage in the incoming class has also increased to 26 percent from 25 percent last year.
The number of incoming class minority students has been 30 percent or more for the past five consecutive years, Vanderpool said.
“We want to become more diverse and serve our minorities well,” Vanderpool said.
Vanderpool said the number of transfer students has increased as well as the academic quality of transfer students, which is measured by current GPA at the students’ previous school.
This year, Baylor saw 451 transfer students enroll. Last year, the number of transfer students was 449.
Baylor is the second-ranking Big 12 university behind the University of Texas at Austin, ranked No. 46.
Regarding Baylor’s ranking, Fogleman said, “It’s always nice to receive external recognition, but it’s not something we are singularly focused on. We truly feel the best way we can measure our excellence as a top Christian research university is the powerful impact our Baylor alumni and our future alums have had and are having throughout Texas, the nation and the world.”