MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University’s 10th day enrollment report reflects administrators’ projections of a decrease in total headcount attributed to declining high school demographics and larger graduating classes in recent years. One positive indicator is that a higher percentage of incoming freshmen who applied and were admitted to Northern took the final step of officially enrolling for the fall semester.
The total headcount of undergraduate and graduate students is 8,169, a decrease of 423 from last year’s figure. There will be some gains as the semester progresses, as some programs have later start dates.
“We anticipated a noticeable decline based on the enrollment challenges Northern and many other institutions are facing,” said Steve Neiheisel, vice president for enrollment management and student services. “While we budgeted for a smaller decrease, final numbers are below the budget levels and we will have to implement some additional cost-saving measures across campus. But this really marks the beginning of a turning point for Northern. We expect positive strides for fall 2016 with the institution’s core values in place, a strategic plan being finalized, and the new brand and related marketing campaign completing a full-year enrollment cycle.”
Efforts to expand and improve recruitment include the Northern Promise, which allows U.P. high school students to complete 12-15 college credits prior to graduation at no cost. Neiheisel said NMU is also launching an innovative referral program for students and alumni and other marketing outreach efforts with plans to significantly increase the prospect and applicant pool for fall 2016. He said these new efforts will build on and complement ongoing enhancements to recruitment strategies and events. For example, Wildcat Weekend open houses in the fall and winter give prospective students a chance to learn more about and experience NMU. The fall event will be held Saturday, Oct. 17.
Efforts to improve student retention are continuing with an expanded First Year Experience program, a learning community that helps students transition to college, cultivate relationships, develop strategies to maximize academic success and become familiar with campus resources. Neiheisel also noted that the recent reorganization resulting in the Office of Student Success Services will enhance support for both recruiting and retaining students representing a wide range of populations.