UNK Freshmen Class – Best Ever

Chancellor Doug Kristensen

The numbers are in, and they show that the new freshmen who enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in August 2002 had the highest academic credentials of any entering class in the institution’s history.

“We’re very pleased with that development,” said UNK Chancellor Douglas Kristensen. “It indicates that students and their families know that UNK offers them a great undergraduate education.”

John Kundel, director of Admissions, said that the new freshman class set records in several qualitative areas. “Composite ACT scores averaged 22.1 this year, the highest in our history. It’s also half a point higher than Fall 2001, and that’s a huge jump in a single year.” Nationally, the average composite ACT score achieved by 2002 high school graduates declined last year, from 21 to 20.8.

Also, Fall 2002 freshman enrollment in the UNK Honors Program increased by 50% over last year’s total, from 101 students to 153. And the number of Regents Scholars at UNK (68) is the highest since the campus joined the University of Nebraska system in 1991. “We experienced a significant increase in the number of high-achieving students who accepted our Regents Scholarship offers,” said Mary Sommers, UNK’s director of Financial Aid. Sommers added, “We’ve made special efforts in our scholarship program to make UNK attractive to good students.”

Overall, UNK’s total enrollment for Fall 2002 declined from the prior year by 31 students (6,395 compared to 6,426). Undergraduate totals were slightly down (41 students), while graduate enrollment was slightly up (10 students). “Every undergraduate class except the junior class is larger than last year,” said Kathy Livingston, UNK director of Institutional Research. “That small junior class reflects the relatively small entering class of Fall 2000, and until that group graduates it will continue to affect our overall enrollment totals.” Although student body size was slightly smaller than last year, the overall number of credit hours taught held steady, 19 higher than in Fall 2001.
Kundel noted considerable progress in UNK’s recruitment campaign. “We had a great year last year, the best in the University. And if you compare our result to the past several years’ trend, we are still on a good trajectory in a number of areas,” he said.

Highlights in early Admissions Office analyses include:

  • The number of new undergraduate transfer students (352) was the highest since 1998. “More students than ever are attending community colleges right after high school,” Kundel noted. “We work hard to recruit them when they’re ready to transfer.”
  • In total, the 2002 first-time freshman class is smaller than Fall 2001 but larger than Fall 2000. “In large part the decline from last year reflects a decline in international students,” said Kundel. “New INS security and processing requirements are a problem.” UNK enrolled 28 fewer international freshmen than in Fall 2001. Still, the number of international freshmen was 22% higher than in 2000 and nearly tripled the result in 1997-1999.
  • Aside from its international component, the freshman class is also more diverse than in prior years. Six and one-half percent of Fall 2002 entering freshmen identified themselves as ethnic minorities, compared to about 4% in prior years. The number of American freshmen of Hispanic descent (51) tripled the Fall 2001 total.
  • Out-of-state U.S. freshmen increased 9.2% from last year and 19% from Fall 2000 (the increase was even larger compared to 1997-1999). Increases in enrollment from Colorado (45%) and Kansas (41%) were particularly notable.
  • “Within Nebraska, we made progress in eastern parts of the state that are traditionally tough markets for us,” Kundel said. “Freshmen from Lancaster County increased by 32%, and in the 18 easternmost counties our freshman enrollment increased by 11%.” In both cases freshman enrollment significantly outpaced growth in the recruiting pool, the number of high school seniors. In other areas results were mixed. For instance, UNK freshmen from central Nebraska declined 2.7%, about the same decrease as in the combined 2002 high school senior class from that area.

“We still have a number of recruitment challenges,” Chancellor Kristensen noted. “Competition is increasing all the time. But we have a great product at UNK, an exemplary faculty, excellent students, fine facilities, and a thriving community. We are confident that over time, more and more people are going to want to join us in Kearney.”