Ole Miss enrollment drops for second straight year

Posted on Sep 14 2018 - 5:50am by Blake Alsup

Enrollment at the University of Mississippi has now dropped for two consecutive years across the university’s regional campuses and medical center.

There were 23,780 students enrolled at the university during fall 2017 compared to 23,258 in fall 2018 — a decrease of 2.2 percent or 522 students. Last year’s decline of 1.9 percent was the first in over 20 years, making this two years in a row that overall enrollment has declined.

Freshman enrollment dropped from 3,697 last year to 3,455 this year — a 6.5 percent decrease. Although the number of students has decreased, the university touted academic improvements in a press release that reported an increase of the average freshman ACT score from 24.1 to 25.1 over the last five years. Freshman average GPA has increased from 3.46 to 3.57 in that time, as well.

Ole Miss’ decrease in student population reflects a decline in total enrollment across Mississippi’s public universities, according to a press release from Mississippi Public Universities. Enrollment across public universities in the state decreased by 1 percent between fall 2017 and fall 2018 — down to 80,592 from 81,378.

The University of Mississippi still maintains the largest enrollment of any university in the state.

Despite the recent decrease, Jim Zook, the university’s associate vice chancellor for strategic communications and marketing, said that since 2010, the number of college and university students enrolled nationally decreased by 5.2 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Enrollment at the University of Mississippi grew 27 percent during the same period.

“We have the fourth-highest enrollment in the history of the university, and the university continues to significantly exceed national trends,” Zook said.

Of students enrolled at Ole Miss this year, 58.3 percent are Mississippi residents. The other 41.7 percent of students come from all 50 states, Washington and 90 foreign countries, according to the release.

Across the Oxford and regional campuses, minority enrollment is at 4,821, which amounts to 23.6 percent of the total student body — a 0.8 percent decrease from last year’s 4,859 minority students.

There are 2,559 African American students enrolled this year, making up 12.5 percent of the student body — a 4.1 percent decrease from the 2,669 African American students enrolled last year. According to the university’s press release, the number of African American transfer students increased by 6.3 percent this year.

This year’s first-time students include 84 class valedictorians, 48 salutatorians, 96 student body presidents, 100 Eagle Scouts and nine Girl Scouts who achieved the Gold Award, the organization’s highest youth honor, according to the university’s press release.

The 2018 freshman class includes seven recipients of the Stamps Scholarship, one of the largest and most prestigious scholarships in the state. Funded by the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, the 13th class of Stamps Scholars includes 230 students nationwide that are selected from almost 300,000 applicants.

“We are seeing the benefits of a number of investments and strategic choices made in recent years to assure a stellar academic and campus life experience for students,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said in the university’s press release. “Students at the University of Mississippi study in high-quality academic programs, bolstered by an academic support system that enables them to stay on track, graduate and compete effectively in today’s global job market.”