WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (THE EXPONENT) - Purdue officials are playing the waiting game to see how many freshmen starting this semester will graduate in four years.
The new enrollment numbers and graduation rates were released Friday evening by the Office of Enrollment Management. Total Fall 2013 enrollment came out to be 38,788, with 29,440 undergraduate, 941 professional and 8,407 graduate students.
The four-year graduation rate has increased slightly. Students who began their Purdue career in 2008 had a four-year graduation rate of 45.7 percent, and those who came in 2009 had a four-year graduation rate of 46.8 percent. Five-year graduation rates have been fluctuating around 64 and 65 percent for those who entered Purdue between 2003 and 2007.
Brent Drake, assistant vice provost and director of enrollment management analysis and reporting, said he doesn’t know if the University has an official target graduation rate, but he personally hopes to see the number go above 50 percent.
“The recently released graduation rate is for the entering class of 2009,” Drake said. “The graduation rates are lagging percentages. So, if we want to see the number for the incoming class of Fall 2013, we would have to wait until 2017 to see that number; but with the academic profile of these students, I would predict that the number would go over 50 percent (in 2017).”
Although the increase might seem small, Drake said any two, three or more percentage increases is actually a drastic change because of the big enrollment numbers.
Pamela Horne, associate vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions, agreed with Drake about aiming higher and higher.
“Well, if you ask for my personal opinion, it would be 100 percent,” Horne laughed. “But that wouldn’t be realistic. We’re looking at over 50 percent as ideal.”
In terms of enrollment numbers by classification, there are 6,283 incoming freshmen, which include 3,453 in-state, 1,852 out-of-state and 978 international students.
With 30,955 applications sent to Purdue last year by high school seniors, more and more students are considering Purdue as a potential place to earn their degree. Now the question is, “How does this translate to increasing graduation rates?” Restricting the number of accepted students might give a boost to the rate, but it might not be ideal or even practical.
“The number of enrollment really depends on whether the entering class meets our physical capacity,” Drake said. “I would find it highly unlikely for Purdue to cut down the number of incoming students to 3,000 or 4,000.”
Ultimately, Horne said, students, professors and academic advisors will need to work together as a team for students to be academically successful and graduate within four years.
“They can help students by making sure they’ve made a good choice about the path they’ve chosen,” Horne said.
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