The Freshman Retention Rate, a rating system used in universities and colleges nationwide to measure students’ overall satisfaction with their institution, reveals that 78% of Northwestern freshman students returned, compared to 65% ten years ago. According to the Dean of Students, Paul Blezien, one of NW’s immediate goals is to continue improving freshman retention rates, although they are already high. He remarked on the faculty and staff’s desire to serve the students: “It is very comforting to be at an institution that doesn’t examine retention rates when they are ready to close their doors.” “It’s really a matter of stewardship to the students.”
Enrollment is high again this fall, at 1285 full-time students. However, compared to last year’s 1313 students, there are just a few more open dorm rooms and empty seats. Charlie Couchlisted a few benefits to the decreased enrollment: greater flexibility for students in course selection, fewer closed courses, a better faculty-student ratio and smaller classes. Dean Blezien also noted that dorms are less crowded. In the past, Heemstra and Colenbrander had to transform student lounges into rooms to accommodate extra students.
The male to female ratio at NW has remained relatively the same for the past decade, with 61% female students and 39% male students. This female/male ratio is representative of higher education nationwide. According to the Public Newswire Association, nearly two million more women are now attending college than men. The women are also acquiring more degrees of all varieties.
In addition, international and minority students numbers have increased this year. There are now 35 international students and 31 students from minority groups. Sociology department professor and Multicultural Awareness Club Advisor, Scott Monsma, remarked: “The world we live in is incredibly diverse – and the best learning environment is one that reflects that diversity.”
However, he adds, “the numbers are still quite small. Looking at the increase does not mean that we should rest on this accomplishment. Rather, I hope that the college would continually increase its efforts to recruit and retain minority and international students.”
As the campus continues exploring new options, both students and faculty remain hopefull at the prospect of having a more diverse campus.