MARQUETTE – The number of freshmen students at Northern Michigan University is up 2 percent over last year. Katie Schoonveld, NMU institutional research assistant, said it’s good news considering that the number of high school graduates in Michigan is shrinking, especially in the central and western U.P.
“We’ve seen the increase in baccalaureate freshman while the high school demographic is shrinking very quickly in Michigan,” Schoonveld said.
About 80 percent of the student body at NMU comes from Michigan.
“So it’s good to register some growth in freshmen despite the declining demographics, particularly in the west-central Upper Peninsula,” said Schooveld.
The overall student population is down, however, by 219 students or 2.4 percent from last year. Schoonveld said fewer students are transferring to NMU and the sophomore and senior classes are smaller.
NMU’s total student population is 8,879.
Schoonveld said it’s important that NMU work to hold onto the students they have by making their experience more successful, productive and enjoyable.
“Obviously if the pool of prospective students is decreasing as it has been, it becomes more critical for the sake of long-term enrollment to hold on to the students already here by making their academic experience more successful, productive and enjoyable,” she said.
NMU officials have intensified their focus on retaining enrolled students. After a new initiative was implemented last year, initial outcomes showed a 7.4 percent increase in retention among a control group of at-risk freshmen, who are now sophomores.
The four largest academic programs at NMU are art & design, nursing, criminal justice and elementary education.