This year’s increase in University’s undergraduate and graduate student enrollment may have contributed to enrollment drops in six of Michigan’s other 14 public universities, despite rising numbers of college-bound teenagers.
The most dramatic decrease was at Western Michigan University, where 1,349 students were lost this year, according to a report by the Detroit News. Enrollment at Eastern Michigan University, Lake Superior State University and the University’s Dearborn campus declined by the hundreds.
Some feel that the increase in enrollment at the University’s Ann Arbor campus and other larger schools like Michigan State University is directly related to a decrease in student bodies of other state universities, said Linda Brown, registrar at the University’s Dearborn campus. Dearborn’s enrollment figures have held relatively stable up until this year.
“Students who apply to U of M Dearborn usually apply to U of M Ann Arbor and MSU too,” Brown said.
This year’s freshmen class at the University is the largest ever. University administrators attributed the large enrollment to a more complex application process and greater-than-normal interest from students accepted into the University.
As a result of the decline, the University’s Dearborn campus has already reorganized its recruitment process. “We don’t blame Ann Arbor or Michigan State,” Brown said. “We simply know that we recruit the same compilation of students.”
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said, “It’s possible other universities felt the ripple effect of (our increased enrollment).”
But others said the data shouldn’t be taken as an indicator that smaller state universities are at the mercy of larger ones. Education Prof. Steve DesJardins said many things need to be considered when determining the reasons for enrollment drops. He said private and out-of-state universities may draw students from Michigan’s public universities, and that different schools appeal to different people.
“All institutions have very different missions and very different marketplaces,” DesJardins said. “To compare them head-to-head is problematic. … For example, Michigan Tech operates in a national market; they’re a well known engineering school. Northern Michigan does not operate in this market.”
Michigan Tech saw a slight decline in enrollment this year while Northern Michigan saw a slight increase.
This year’s freshmen class at the University is the largest ever, and administrators say part of the reason may be because the new application with more essays weeds out students not really interested.