Enrollment for fall semester at the North Dakota State College of Science has leveled off at 3,066 students, representing a slight dip of 2 percent after last fall's 28-year-high figures. Total enrollment at the College includes a diverse population of Wahpeton, Fargo and online students.
"Three significant factors are contributing to a leveling off of enrollment this fall, the largest of which is the impact of fewer high school graduates in North Dakota and surrounding states," said Dr. John Richman, NDSCS president. "This decrease in high school graduates will impact recruiting efforts at NDSCS and colleges around the region, as has been predicted."
Richman cites the second factor affecting enrollment as the popularity of specific programs. "At NDSCS, several of our most popular programs have seen overwhelming applications where prospective students are vying for limited seats. Unfortunately we have capped enrollment in these programs and cannot accommodate all of the students who are interested in these high-demand programs at this time."
The final factor affecting enrollment is the booming North Dakota economy, according to Richman: "Many high school graduates in the state are opting for high-paying jobs in the oil patch over education. This is a tide that we believe will eventually turn, but the short-term effect of a robust state economy is trickling down to educational institutions right now." NDSCS enrollment has been climbing since 2008 and celebrated a 28-year high enrollment of 3,127 students just last fall.
On-campus housing at the Wahpeton campus has also experienced an insignificant drop as students living in residence halls decreased by less than 1 percent to 972 this fall. "We would expect a small drop in the housing demand that would coincide with that of the on-campus enrollment," commented Melissa Johnson, executive director of residence life.
The 2012 student body includes 1,807 full-time students and 1,259 part-time students. There are 323 students taking at least one class at NDSCS-Fargo. The number of women enrolled at NDSCS is at 1,385, more than 45 percent of the total enrollment.
The enrollment data shows NDSCS continues to do an exemplary job of serving students from North Dakota. NDSCS has registered students from 50 of the state's 53 counties. The total number of students from North Dakota, 2,118, comprises more than 69 percent of the student body.
Representation from neighboring states include: Minnesota, 24 percent; South Dakota, 3 percent; and Montana, 1 percent. NDSCS has students enrolled from 34 states other than North Dakota, one Canadian province and three foreign countries.
Offsetting the decrease in high school graduates is the increasing number of adult learners who are returning to college for personal and professional fulfillment, as well as those who are seeking to change careers. "The key to catering to adult students is to offer flexible programming and scheduling," said Barbara Spaeth-Baum, executive director, College Relations and Marketing. "NDSCS is focusing on expanding the program options for our adult student population."