September 10, 2008

Purdue sets records for academic quality, diversity, graduate school and overall enrollment

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University on Wednesday (Sept. 10) reported that the number of applications for, and the academic quality of, its first-year class broke records this year.

Final enrollment somewhat exceeded initial projections, with a record 40,090 students on the West Lafayette campus. The fall enrollment compares to 39,102 students in fall 2007. West Lafayette enrollment combined with Purdue's other locations brings the systemwide enrollment to an estimated 71,984 compared to 70,075 a year ago.

Interest in Purdue remains high, with a record 29,952 students who applied to be in the freshman class, up 4,023 from last year, Provost Randy Woodson said. The new class is only slightly larger, at 7,063 new freshmen compared to 6,888 last fall.

"The number of students applying indicates that Purdue is regarded as a leading national and international university," Woodson said. "But even more importantly, the academic credentials of the incoming class are at an all-time high, impacting the overall quality of the learning environment."

The average high school rank is a Purdue record, with 55 percent of new freshmen in the top 20 percent of their graduating classes. The record-high average SAT scores include critical reading SAT at 554, above the national average of 502. The average math SAT score for Purdue students is 598, also above the national average of 515. The average SAT writing score is 545, compared to the national average score of 494. 

"We are especially pleased with the increase in the writing scores. Recent studies show writing provides an excellent indicator of preparation for college success," said Pamela Horne, assistant vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions.

Recently, the College Board reported that both nationally and in Indiana, SAT scores stayed steady among 2008 high school graduates. In contrast, Purdue's total SAT average score increased by 13 points over last year. Purdue's ACT average composite score has risen to 26, compared to 25 last year and a 21.1 national average.

The new students also are well rounded, Horne said.

"In addition to being academically accomplished, our freshmen have been leaders in their schools, volunteers in their communities, active athletes and artists, or working at jobs to prepare and save for their futures," she said. "We anticipate great contributions from them at Purdue."

Thomas Robinson, vice president for student services, said total enrollment is right where Purdue administrators want it to be.

"Enrollment this semester is within our target range," he said. "As part of Purdue's strategic plan to both enhance the student experience and use our instructional and physical capacity wisely, we have achieved our planned stability."

Purdue's Graduate School has an enrollment of 7,427, up 433 compared to last year. Professional programs in pharmacy and veterinary medicine, with 902 students, decreased by 20.

"All great universities have strong graduate programs, a testament to the quality of the faculty and their research programs that attract these students," said Jon Story, interim dean for the Graduate School. "The growth also reflects well on the university's efforts to encourage more students to pursue advanced education."

Purdue also achieved record diversity among its students. The number of enrolled students who identify as African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic or Native American is 4,762, an increase of 82 students compared to fall 2007.

This year's international freshman class also has reached an all-time high of 521, said Michael Brzezinski, associate dean of international programs. The total international undergraduate enrollment is now 2,360, with an additional 3,119 international graduate and professional students.

"The record international enrollment represents an exciting trend for Purdue as the university continues to represent a diversified, global society," Brzezinski said. "The interest in Purdue overseas tells us that Purdue's recruitment efforts and admissions processes are working as intended and that the quality of our academic programs are well recognized as some of the best in the world. An increasing wealth of the middle class in many developing countries also has had an impact on our international enrollment."

As part of the strategic plan, the university is placing a priority on ensuring that well-qualified students have access to a Purdue education and the support they need once they are here, Horne said.

Support starts with Boiler Gold Rush.

"Boiler Gold Rush, a voluntary weeklong orientation program before classes start, had a record attendance of more than 5,550 this year," she said. "Research has shown that students who participate in the program have a retention rate that is 9 percentage points higher than students who do not attend.

"A record number of students also are in our Learning Communities, programs that group together first-year students who take two or more of the same courses together, share a common academic interest, and live in the same residence hall. This program is another way for Purdue to create connections among new students.

"So many people play a major role in our student success, including those involved in orientation and success programs, recruitment, advising, mentoring, financial aid, residence life, student activities, and teaching. Together they have worked to recruit, enroll and retain students who have the potential to succeed both personally and academically at Purdue."

Other statewide campus totals include:

* Purdue Calumet - estimated at 9,325, compared with last fall's 9,607.

* Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne - 12,338, compared to 11,943 a year ago.

* Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis - estimated at 4,629 enrolled in Purdue programs, compared with 4,411 last year.

* Purdue North Central - estimated at 4,241 students, compared with 3,904 a year ago.

* Statewide Technology - estimated at 1,361 equivalent full-time students, compared with 1,383 a year ago. College of Technology degrees are offered in Anderson/Muncie, Columbus/Greensburg, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond and South Bend.

The undergraduate enrollment breakdown at the West Lafayette campus by academic area is:

* Agriculture, 2,535

* Consumer and Family Sciences, 1,939

* Education, 901

* Engineering, 6,579

* Liberal Arts, 6,657

* Management, 2,829

* Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, 1,841

* Science, 2,816

* Technology, 3,804

* Veterinary Medicine, 391

* Undergraduate Studies (programs for students who have not decided on a major), 1,199

* Non-degree students, 270

The graduate-level enrollment breakdown at West Lafayette by academic area is:

* Agriculture, 491

* Consumer and Family Sciences, 185

* Education, 402

* Engineering, 2,331

* Liberal Arts, 1,149

* Management, 816

* Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, 226

* Science, 1,083

* Technology, 317

* Veterinary Medicine, 131

* Interdisciplinary, 296

The professional-level enrollment breakdown at West Lafayette by academic area is:

* Pharmacy, 638

* Veterinary Medicine, 264

Writer: Christy Jones, (765) 494-1089,

Sources: Randy Woodson,

Pamela Horne, (765) 494-9116,

Thomas B. Robinson, (765) 494-5776,

Jon Story, (765) 494-6843,

Michael Brzezinski, (765) 494-7084,

Sarah Bauer, director of enrollment management, (765) 494-0886,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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