Purdue welcomes the university's most academically prepared incoming class

September 12, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue first-year students are breaking academic records this year and the university is reporting its best retention rates, according to enrollment figures released Monday (Sept. 12).

"We are very pleased that the student success goals and metrics we put in place in our New Synergies strategic plan are paying off in our enrollment numbers, where we are seeing more diversity, a more well-prepared student body, and increased retention rates for first- and second-year students," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "We are extremely appreciative of everyone who has contributed to our efforts toward greater student success."

This year's freshman class of 6,659 students at the West Lafayette campus - composed of 3,480 Indiana residents, 1,854 U.S. nonresidents and 1,325 international students - is 312 larger than last year's class. The average ACT score for the freshman class increased from 26.3 to 26.6, and the class average SAT score increased by 14 points to a combined 1731 on the critical reading, math and writing sections. This follows increases of nine points last year and 11 points in 2009. The average high school grade point average of the freshmen is 3.62 - up from 3.57 one year ago.

First-year students from Indiana showed an average 10-point increase on the SAT from 1690 last year to 1700 this year.

According to data from the College Board, 574 Indiana high school graduates in 2011 achieved a 2100-2400 total SAT score and self-reported an A or A+ high school grade point average. Purdue's 2011 freshman class includes more than 240 Indiana students who meet comparable achievement thresholds.

"We are especially pleased that many of Indiana's highest achieving students are choosing Purdue," Córdova said.

Purdue's freshman profile also reflects how well these students are prepared for college, making their academic success and retention more likely, said Timothy D. Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. First- and second-year retention rates are all-time highs at 90.2 percent and 82.5 percent respectively.

"These increasing retention rates not only reflect better prepared students, but also the university's commitment to supporting undergraduates," Sands said. "Our academic reputation continues to grow because of the increase in undergraduate research opportunities, study abroad, learning communities and other educational enrichment activities that our graduates report having a strong impact on their academic success. Because of the undergraduate experience, our graduates are in demand by employers and graduate schools."

This year's freshman class also is the first incoming class that was required to complete four years of high school math.

"Preparation and hard work during high school is the first step to success at Purdue," said Pamela T. Horne, associate vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions. "This new requirement helps ensure that students start college with a strong foundation to do well at Purdue so they excel through and after graduation. A talented student body, combined with a commitment to supporting students and documented return on investment, are among the factors that make Purdue such an attractive choice."

The total West Lafayette campus enrollment is 39,637 compared to 39,726 last year.

Total system enrollment - which includes West Lafayette, Purdue Calumet, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, the Purdue programs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue North Central and the Statewide Technology Program - is 75,436. All but 358 Indiana students who applied to the West Lafayette campus were offered admission to the Purdue system. Last year's system-wide enrollment was 74,759.

"The Purdue system is strong and 70.4 percent of our students are from Indiana," Sands said.

Statewide campus enrollment totals include:

* Purdue Calumet, 9,786

* Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, 14,326

* Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 5,177 enrolled in Purdue programs

* Purdue North Central, 5,279

* Statewide Technology, 1,231. College of Technology degrees are offered in Anderson, Columbus/Greensburg, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, New Albany, Richmond, South Bend and Vincennes.

The number of international students on the West Lafayette campus increased to 7,934.

"This campus demographic is part of our strategic mission because it offers all Purdue students a global experience in West Lafayette," said Michael Brzezinski, dean of international programs. "Interaction with such a large and diverse group of international students makes Purdue an appealing choice for successful prospective students and their parents, as well as employers."

The Graduate School also saw its second largest total enrollment at 7,937, just 43 fewer than last year's record. Graduate study continues to be part of a national trend with more emphasis placed on advanced degrees.

"We also are pleased to see that a large number of Indiana students are in graduate school because these students have a vested interest in the state," said Mark J.T. Smith, dean of the Graduate School.

Other West Lafayette enrollment highlights:

* Ethnicity: Black or African-American, 1,371; Asian, 1,951; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 20; Hispanic/Latino, 1,294; American Indian/Alaska Native, 102; and two or more races, 456

* Total undergraduates: 30,776

* Undergraduate residency: Indiana students, 18,350; U.S. non-Indiana students, 7,970; and international students, 4,456

* Professional programs (Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy): 924

* Incoming transfer students: 1,097

* Gender: Women 16,710, men 22,927.

Writer:  Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu 

Sources:  France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                   Timothy Sands, 765-494-9709, tsands@purdue.edu

                   Pamela T. Horne, 765-494-7014, pamhorne@purdue.edu

                   Michael Brzezinski, 765-494-9399, mbrzezinski@purdue.edu

                   Mark J. T. Smith, 765-494-2604, mjts@purdue.edu