Enrollment at the college is up for the second year in a row, with this fall’s entering class bringing the student body up to more than 1200 students.
This year enrollment is up 4 percent from last year. The latest numbers from the Office of Institutional Advancement show that there are 763 undergraduate and 443 graduate students. Although this did not make the college’s enrollment goal of 1000 undergraduates by this year, administrators said they are pleased with the overall increase.
“We’re somewhat short of that goal,” said John Brabson, interim provost, “but that’s what goals are for.”
Last year was the first rebound in a downward undergraduate enrollment trend that began in 1995, and this year’s increase is continuing the growth and helping Mills regain lost ground.
“The admissions office is excited about the entering class,” said Avis Hinkson, director of admissions. She said the stepping up of recruitment efforts by both the college and admission has yielded an increase in applications, especially from traditional-aged freshwomen.
It was a conscious effort to attract first year students, Hinkson said. This year, 57 percent of the entering undergraduates are freshwomen, compared to 47 percent last year. Freshwomen who were accepted to Mills through an early admission program were flown in for campus visits. Hinkson said although many of them were from California, the college offered to pay travel costs.
“We hope to attract students who are looking to make a four-year commitment to the college,” she said.
The total number of students applying to Mills has also gone up 11 percent this year, Hinkson said. Recruiting efforts played a role in that, but an increase of college-aged students, dubbed the “echo baby boom” by admissions officers around the country, had a part.
“The number of available students does help,” Hinkson said.
But even with the push for freshwomen, Hinkson stressed that the college recognizes the importance of transfer, resuming and network students, too.
“Efforts have not been to attract less transfers,” Hinkson said, adding that the admissions office would like to see a continuation in the increase in applications and bring in an even larger class of entering students next year.
This fall’s entering fall class included 242 undergraduate and 206 graduate
A high student enrollment means more institutional revenue, said Brabson, and that is essential to the health of the college.
Senior Deagon Williams said although she has not noticed the growth of the student body, she thinks this is a good step for Mills.
“We need people here to keep this place going,” she said.
Higher enrollment not only helps the college with operating costs, but can also translate into benefits for students, said Brabson. It allows the college to develop new and richer curriculum, provide more academic resources for students, and, in the long term, perform delayed maintenance like upgrade classrooms.
“It all contributes to the quality of the academic programs at the college,” Brabson said.