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Number of first-time freshmen at UL Lafayette increases; grad school enrollment up

Photo courtesy of Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The number of first-time freshmen at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has grown by more than 15%.

Posted: Sep 29, 2021 9:58 AM

LAFAYETTE, La. - The number of first-time freshmen at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has grown by more than 15%.

A total of 2,693 freshman are enrolled at UL Lafayette for the Fall 2021 semester. That’s up from 2,338 last fall and marks a 15.2% increase, noted Dr. DeWayne Bowie, vice president for Enrollment Management.

“More freshmen are choosing UL Lafayette because of the strong reputation the University enjoys for providing exceptional educational experiences and opportunities in a tight-knit, friendly community,” Bowie said.

“Small class sizes, individualized instruction, affordability and nationally ranked academic programs are among the reasons students choose to pursue their dreams here,” he added.

UL Lafayette released Fall 2021 enrollment data on Wednesday.

The uptick in the number of first-time freshmen is among several areas of enrollment growth the University has seen at the start of the new academic year when compared to last fall. Among these are:

a 5.7% increase in the number of high school juniors and seniors who are dually enrolled at the University and earn college credits while still in high school;
a 4.4% increase in the number of students who have transferred to UL Lafayette from other colleges and universities; and
a 3.9% increase in Graduate School enrollment.

A total of 2,525 graduate students are enrolled this fall, up 95 from Fall 2020.

The number of students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees has increased by 66% in five years, noted Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, dean of the Graduate School. UL Lafayette had 1,521 graduate students in Fall 2016.

Farmer-Kaiser attributed the jump to the growth of online delivery of the MBA program, strong retention rates across the University’s nearly 50 master’s and doctoral degree curriculums, the creation of new graduate programs, and the expansion of others into online and executive formats.

In the past year, UL Lafayette introduced an online option for Louisiana’s only master’s in informatics degree program and the state’s only master’s degree in industrial chemistry. A new graduate certificate program in population health will begin in Spring 2021.

“The enrollment progress we continue to experience reflects an institutional commitment to graduate education. It’s also a testament to the quality and resiliency of the graduate students who enroll here and the faculty members who are wholly dedicated to their success,” Farmer-Kaiser said.

UL Lafayette has 13,700 undergraduates this semester which, when combined with the Graduate School total, puts the University’s degree-seeking enrollment at 16,225 students. That’s 225 fewer students than the Fall 2020 semester and a decline of 1.4%.

“Continuing students remain a challenge,” Bowie explained. “Though our overall retention rate is at a record high, consecutive smaller freshmen classes several years ago have resulted in fewer continuing students.

“We’ve also had record-setting graduating classes in recent academic years. Both factors have affected our degree-seeking enrollment,” he said.

However, an additional 2,978 non-credit-bearing students bring UL Lafayette’s overall enrollment to 19,203. That’s 25 more students than last fall.

Non-credit bearing students include those who take professional development and training courses and Continuing Education classes.

Louisiana’s public colleges and universities take a census of full- and part-time students on the 14th day of classes each fall semester, Bowie explained. The totals are reported to the Louisiana Board of Regents and, in the case of UL Lafayette, to the University of Louisiana System as well.

“The census compiles enrollment totals, but it also provides the University with a snapshot of who our students are,” he said.

For example, the Fall 2021 census shows that the number of Black students at UL Lafayette increased by 7.6% over last fall. Black students now make up nearly 22% of the student population.

Students hail from 63 parishes in Louisiana; 48 states, U.S. possessions and the District of Columbia; and 87 international countries.

Photo caption: UL Lafayette released Fall 2021 enrollment numbers on Wednesday. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

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