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Emporia State University Records Highest Retention Rate on Record, Sees Enrollment Growth

October 1, 2018

Highest Current Student Retention Rate on Record

6% growth in all new students FTE enrollment

36% growth in new graduate student FTE enrollment

7% growth in new freshmen FTE enrollment


Despite graduating its largest class in 10 years in May 2018, Emporia State has overall growth in enrollment thanks to the highest retention on record and strong enrollment numbers.

In fall 2018, Emporia State saw its highest retention rate on record for first-year students, that is, students who were new in fall 2017 and returned for their second year of classes.

“Our retention success is a result of solid support programs for our students,” said Allison D. Garrett, president of Emporia State University. “Faculty and staff work with our students, whether it’s in ACES, our Academic Center for Excellence and Success, or in ways that connect them to campus. Everyone on campus plays a role.”

Overall enrollment also increased. Universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system are reporting fall 2018 enrollment data as full-time equivalent students, or FTEs. Calculations of FTEs assume 15 credit hours in one semester equals one FTE undergraduate student. For graduate students, 12 credit hours in a semester equals one student.

“Transforming credit hours into full-time equivalent students helps us normalize our data by combining those students attending Emporia State part-time and full-time or even for one specific workshop for academic credit,” explained Dr. David Cordle, ESU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

On Sept. 17, the 20th day of classes at Emporia State, the university recorded a total of 4,493 FTE students, which includes both undergraduate and graduate hours. This compares to 4,468 FTE for fall 2017 for a 0.57 percent growth.

The enrollment report also shows:

  • Increase in FTE new students — new freshmen, transfer and graduate students — of 6 percent, from 1,171 FTEs in fall 2017 to 1,245 in fall 2018.
  • Significant growth in new graduate students. From 230 FTE in fall 2017 to 313 FTE this year, a growth of 36 percent.
  • Growth in new freshmen, from 618 FTE in fall 2017 to 661 FTE in fall 2018, an increase of 7 percent.

“Last year, we graduated more than one-quarter of our student body,” said Garrett. “We are proud of our students’ success. ESU graduates regularly report a 98 percent placement rate in careers in their field of study or acceptance into advanced graduate studies.”

Paired with the educational excellence that leads to employment, Emporia State is dedicated to providing access to affordable higher education to ensure Kansans have every opportunity to prosper and provide for their families and local economies. In data released last month by U.S. News & World Report, ESU graduates had the lowest student debt of all four-year public universities in Kansas.

“Emporia State is proud to offer a tremendous value to students and to the state,” said Garrett. “Even more important than the numbers are the individual students who reach for their dreams by enrolling at Emporia State. They are the reason we come to campus every day and why we cheer as they walk across the stage at commencement.”

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