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Appalachian State sees record retention, diversity rates as ‘slow and steady’ growth continues

By Megan Hayes

BOONE, N.C.—In August, Appalachian State University welcomed 18,811 students to campus, including 3,306 first-year students who comprise the largest and most diverse first-year class in the university’s history.

Preliminary data from the Fall 2017 Student Data File and the Office of Admissions as of September 8, 2017 also show record retention and diversity rates for the Fall 2017 semester.

View larger imageAppalachian students gather with Chancellor Sheri N. Everts to form the traditional “Block A” at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Aug. 28, the day before classes began for the Fall 2017 semester. Photo by Marie Freeman

The overall university population is now the most diverse in history at 16 percent, up from 15 percent in Fall 2016 and 13 percent from Fall 2014, Dr. Sheri N. Everts’ first semester as chancellor.

A record 18 percent of the first-year class identify as traditionally underrepresented, an increase of just over 10 percent from Fall 2016.

Other key performance indicators for universities across the nation include first- to second-year retention rates and 6-year graduation rates. Everts said, “While we diligently keep our focus on slow and steady growth, we have reported record gains in the key areas of recruitment and retention over the past three years.”

Appalachian’s overall retention rate now exceeds 88 percent, which is an all-time high, and which also exceeds the national average of 68 percent.

“Our faculty and staff can take particular pride in our retention rates, because they reflect the depth of their commitment to student success,” said Everts.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Cindy Barr echoed Everts’ sentiment regarding the importance of recruiting and retaining a diverse student body. “Providing a diverse learning environment is critical to preparing students for their post-college lives and careers,” said Barr.

Everts emphasized the need to ensure the university has the faculty, staff and facilities to support the growth. “Maintaining our infrastructure and our support for students, faculty and staff is in line with our mission of sustainability,” she said. “While we are all pleased that an Appalachian education is in high demand, we must make sure we are growing at a rate we can support and sustain in order to provide a transformative Appalachian Experience to all of our students.” She emphasized that university leadership will prioritize adding new faculty positions, as well as the quality and availability of academic classroom and laboratory space, in particular.

The admissions selection process continues to enroll students most likely to succeed. For enrolled students, the average high school GPA is 4.21 (weighted), average SAT score is 1184 and ACT 25.7.

Appalachian State University Enrollment Data – New Student Enrollment
New Student Enrollment Fall 2017 Fall 2016 Change
First-year Student Enrollment 3,306 3,125 +5.8%
Transfer Student Enrollment 1,304 1,266 +3.0%
New Graduate Student Enrollment 853 786 +8.5%
Underrepresented New Student Enrollment 1,051 949 +10.7%
Out-of-State New Student Enrollment 670 647 +3.6%
Appalachian State University Enrollment Data – Total Enrollment
Total Enrollment Fall 2017 Fall 2016 Change
Appalachian Total Enrollment 18,811 18,295 +2.8%
Total Undergraduate Enrollment 17,017 16,595 +2.5%
Total Graduate Enrollment 1,794 1,700 +5.5%
Total Distance Education Enrollment 1,274 1,231 +3.5%
Underrepresented Student Enrollment 2,967 2,695 +10.1%
Out-of-State Enrollment 1,685 1,621 +3.9%

Retention and Graduation Rates

  • The retention rate (the rate the Fall 2016 first-year cohort returned for Fall 2017) is 89%, up from 87% for the Fall 2015 cohort.
  • The four-year graduation rate (the rate for the Fall 2013 first-year cohort) is 53%, up from 52% for the Fall 2012 cohort.
  • The six-year graduation rate (the rate for the Fall 2011 first-year cohort) is 73%, up from 72% for the Fall 2010 cohort.

Preliminary data from the Fall 2017 Student Data File and the Office of Admissions as of September 8, 2017, prepared by Appalachian’s offices of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning and Enrollment Management.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.