More than 15,500 students are enrolled at East Tennessee State University as the school celebrates its centennial.
According to the university, 15,536 students are attending classes this fall, an increase of 302 from fall 2010. The school will turn 100 Oct. 2. On that day in 1911, the school enrolled 29 students.
“This is wonderful news to share, especially as our campus is just weeks away from turning 100 years old,” ETSU President Paul E. Stanton Jr. said in a news release. “Our story is an amazing one when you consider how we began as a training college for teachers with only 29 students and grew to a university with more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and an enrollment well above 15,000.”
According to the school, the university admitted its largest class of transfer students this fall — a total of 1,220 and an increase of 143 from one year ago. First-time freshmen this year number 2,087, an increase of 40 students from fall 2010.
Ramona Williams, ETSU vice provost for enrollment services, said the school tries to predict enrollment trends by gathering data on the number of high school seniors and the area’s birth rate and other things. That data helps determine enrollment figures. Another thing that may affect enrollment in the years to come is the state’s push to send more students through the community college system before they attend an university.
“But hopefully, we’ll continue to see enrollment increases,” Williams said, adding ETSU has seen significant growth for about the past five years. “I think all of us want more people in the state of Tennessee to have a degree.”
The school cited many reasons for continued enrollment increases, including the HOPE Scholarship, the breadth of programs at the school and numerous off-campus locations and online options for course work.
Williams said more and more people are realizing the value of higher education as the years go on. She said the statistics that point to college graduates earning more money than non-college graduates is almost likely known to most people.
“It’s one of those things I think more people are aware of,” Williams said of going to college. “It’s something more families talk about.”
Graduate-level students increased in number by about 5 percent, the school said. In the past 15 years 10 new doctoral programs have been added to ETSU’s offerings, most recently the doctor of practice in nursing.
With 15,000-plus students on campus, planning for the courses they will need and what they want is imperative. Williams said the school surveys incoming students at orientation to determine the best way to arrange courses.
A constantly increasing student body allows for a richer college experience, Williams said.
“The more people you get, the more diverse backgrounds and experiences and goals and dreams you get,” Williams said.