By Paula Ann Solis
Baylor has announced record-breaking undergraduate and total enrollment for the third year in a row with 15,616 students, a 1.6 percent increase from last year’s 15,364.
Mary Herridge, the associate director of admissions in counseling and recruitment, said increasing the number of freshmen and incoming transfer students each year is not one of the university’s goals and the changes that have been made are not as radical as they seem.
“Acceptance rates have actually gone down, which is good, because it means we’re becoming a more selective institution,” Herridge said.
Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media relations, agreed that increasing Baylor’s enrollment is not a focus of the university. Fogleman said the real achievement is the increase in retention rates and diversity.
The retention rate of first-time freshmen since 2010 has increased by 6.3 percent in three years. The current rate is 88.2 percent, according to Baylor’s latest Institutional Research and Testing report.
Dr. Sinda K. Vanderpool, assistant vice provost for academic enrollment management, said in the media release that for a university as large as Baylor, the significant increase in retention rates is unusual.
“We have been able to make this progress because the faculty and staff campuswide believe that every Baylor student can successfully graduate,” Vanderpool said.
Vanderpool said faculty involvement, scholarship funding and the use of MAP-Works has attributed to the university’s unprecedented successful retention rate.
MAP-Works, a data collection and survey administration service used by Baylor, has allowed the faculty and staff to better understand students and increase retention rates by considering non-academic factors such as motivation and the sense of belonging, Vanderpool said.
Baylor’s media release also noted the increase in minority enrollment totaling 33.9 percent, a 0.5 percent increase from last year and the highest it has been in the university’s 168-year history. Out-of-state freshman enrollment has also increased more than 3 percent since last year and now stands at 29.3 percent.