OSU freshman enrollment hits all-time high: Incoming class tops previous record by more than 375 students
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Oklahoma State University is preparing to welcome its largest, most diverse freshman class in history.
With 4,668-plus first-time freshmen enrolled, the class of 2026 eclipses previous records and represents an increase of more than 9% over last year’s freshman enrollment for the fall semester.
The OSU Honors College also set a new enrollment record for the second consecutive year with 3,096 total enrollees. Other notable highlights include online enrollment, which increased nearly 26% compared to last year, and enrollment in STEM programs, which increased more than 11% compared to 2021, besting the previous record established in 2017.
New enrollment of first-generation students has risen more than 7%, and the number of OSU freshmen emerging from the top 5% of their high school class reached a new record, leaping 2% over the previous record established last fall. Transfer student enrollment also saw an increase. Year-to-year retention totals have hit a new high, as well, and OSU has posted its second highest retention rate on record, with nearly 84% of students returning to enroll at OSU and a record number of new students returning for their second year.
OSU’s total enrollment for the fall semester is up 4% over last year — 24,692 students — and includes students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 113 countries.
“We were expecting to have record-setting freshman enrollment this semester, but to surpass the previous record by more than 375 students is truly remarkable,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “This historic milestone is a testament to the strength of our academic programs, dedicated faculty and staff, and our unwavering commitment to provide a world-class education that empowers our students to learn, grow and succeed. It’s a great time to be a Cowboy. With the upcoming release of our new strategy, we’re primed to continue to elevate the prestige and impact of our modern land-grant institution to serve the needs of the state, nation and world.”
Karen Chen, OSU vice president of enrollment management, echoed Shrum’s excitement.
“We’re thrilled to welcome this historic freshman class to the Cowboy family,” Chen said. “We're celebrating a monumental achievement for freshman enrollment, exceeding the previous record by over 375 new students. We are also excited to recognize the record retention numbers and significant increases in overall student enrollment. There's so much momentum and excitement surrounding the university right now as we continue to explore new ways to enhance our institution, our facilities and academic programs, and, most importantly, the student experience.”
Stillwater native and incoming freshman BreAnna Peeper said she’s had her heart set on OSU for a long time. Both of her parents attended OSU, and she embraced Cowboy traditions from a young age.
“It’s a really beautiful campus and I just love being around OSU,” she said.
Even if you’re not from Stillwater, she said OSU “just feels like home.”
“Everyone’s always so nice and welcoming,” she said.
Peeper, who plans to major in elementary education, said she’s looking forward to being back on campus — this time as a student — and joining the largest incoming class in school history.
“I think that’s really exciting to know that so many other people love OSU the way that I do and want to be a part of it,” she said.
Incoming freshman Tyler Clayton plans to study engineering at OSU, which quickly rose to the top of his list.
“The reason that I first got interested in OSU was because I had applied to several schools and it just seemed like none of them were really prioritizing or focused on if I was going to do well,” he said. “I would email admissions counselors for these other schools and they just weren’t really answering me or helping me very much. It was completely different for OSU, and that really got me interested in the school because OSU seemed to put a lot of effort into my well-being and my success at the school.”
Apart from the personal touch, Clayton said the strength of OSU’s engineering programs was particularly compelling, noting that OSU offers exciting research opportunities to underclassmen and access to state-of-the-art facilities.
“When I came to campus for my orientation, I noticed the engineering building is very new,” he said. “One of the ‘rules’ within the engineering department is they like to keep everything as up-to-date as possible. They replace their equipment more often than other schools, and I feel like that really prioritizes the students and opportunities for us to get access to the best facilities for learning.”
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeanette Mendez said a student-focused approach is at the heart of OSU’s academic mission. New and cutting-edge facilities, such as the Greenwood School of Music, the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, the Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center, the Unmanned Systems Research Institute and the forthcoming New Frontiers Agricultural Hall are physical representations of OSU’s commitment to provide a one-of-a-kind, hands-on learning experience.
“The land-grant mission calls us to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges through research and practical applications. That starts with our students,” Mendez said. “Whichever degree path students choose to pursue, they’ll find a home here and a network of support. Our faculty are dedicated and eager to help them explore their passions, learn and thrive. That’s what being a part of the Cowboy family is all about.”
Enrollment gains in graduate and professional programs
Adding to the positive news on the undergraduate side, the fall semester also saw a significant boost in graduate and professional enrollment at 5,397 total students.
That represents a 3.7% increase over the previous year. Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences saw the biggest increase at 13.7% over the previous year. OSU-Tulsa saw an 8.4% jump and the Stillwater campus recorded a 1.6% increase.
Dr. Sheryl Tucker, dean of the Graduate College, attributes the promising figures to workforce-responsive programs, such as business administration, educational leadership, public health, environmental science, materials and science engineering. Innovative program offerings, like the new doctorate of health care administration and doctorate of forensic sciences programs, have contributed as well, Tucker said.
“With the rapid pace of change in the job market and the need for advanced level knowledge, skills and experiences, OSU provides learning opportunities for those entering a new career and those upskilling for career mobility,” she said.
“OSU continues to support Oklahoma and the nation by graduating advanced degree holders that are able to immediately contribute to their chosen profession as a leader in their fields.”