MTSU sees more new freshmen, international, minori...

MTSU sees more new freshmen, international, minority students

Middle Tennessee State University has the largest class of new freshmen and the largest population of new transfer students among the six universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, according to preliminary counts released Monday.

MTSU freshman Emily Neal of White House, Tenn., a member of the largest freshman class enrolled at a Tennessee Board of Regents university this year, is accompanied by her mother, Pam Neal, and her father, MTSU alumnus Tony Neal, as she moves into Corlew Hall during the We-Haul event Aug. 23. Emily is majoring in electronic media communication. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli).

MTSU’s new freshman population increased by almost 2 percent over last year, growing to 3,179 as of the 14th day of classes, the date TBR uses as the system’s enrollment snapshot.

The university welcomed 1,907 new transfers, the most of any TBR school.

“We are pleased that our number of new freshmen has increased,” said Dr. Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services.

“This is good news since, nationally, the number of high school graduates is down, and demographers have predicted a smaller high school graduate population in Tennessee.”

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, a resource for universities in admission forecasting, predicted a decline in Tennessee’s high school graduating class between the 2012-13 and 2015-16 school years.

MTSU’s overall enrollment declined by 5.96 percent compared to fall 2012 totals. The university reported a head count of 23,881 for fall 2013, down 1,513 students from fall 2012.

However, both the average ACT and the average high school GPA are up for the entering freshman class, Sells said. The ACT average for the fall 2013 freshman class, 22.0, continues to be above the national average of 20.9 as well as the Tennessee tested population average of 19.5.

This 2013 average is also an increase of almost 0.2 over the 2012 ACT average at MTSU of 21.8, she said. The average high school 3.35 GPA for the fall 2013 freshman class is above last year’s freshman class average GPA of 3.31.

Dr. Debra Sells

“This is great news since the national average ACT decreased in 2013,” Sells said.

The national ACT average was 20.9 in 2013, compared to 21.1 in 2012. Within the state of Tennessee, the average was 19.5 in 2013 versus 19.7 in 2012.

Sells said new transfer and graduate school enrollments are down, primarily due to the improving economy, coupled with the continuing shift in the burden of costs from the state to individual students.

“As students and families become increasingly concerned about costs and debt burden, they become more prone to discontinuing their investment in education in favor of immediate employment opportunities that may arise,” she said.

Dr. Michael Allen

Dr. Michael Allen, vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, also said changes in state policy that remove “the link between graduate education and teacher salaries had a significant impact on the number of teachers enrolling in graduate courses.”

A bright spot in the graduate college, Allen said, was that enrollment in doctoral programs has increased: 304 students are pursuing doctoral degrees this year as compared to 279 last year — 25 more students for an 8.96 percent increase.

Allen said the university also has been pleased to see MTSU’s newly developed doctoral programs attracting scholars.

And, despite decreases in new transfer students for the fall term, the number of transfer students enrolled at MTSU is 10,670, which represents 50.42 percent of the undergraduate population.

The top six feeder institutions for all transfers to MTSU were Motlow State, 1,473; Columbia State, 913; Nashville State, 908; Volunteer State, 846; the Universitiy of Tennessee-Knoxville, 320; and Southwest, 284.

The number of underrepresented minority students at MTSU also continues to increase, officials reported.

  • Hispanic enrollment at 978 students represents 4.1 percent of the total enrollment and is a 5.5 percent increase over 2012.
  • African-American students have increased to 5,014, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2012. Freshmen African-American is up 881 vs. 853, a 3.3 percent increase. The African-American student enrollment of 5,014 represents 21 percent of total enrollment, and increased 1.6 percent over 2012. African-American first-time freshmen (881) represent 27.71 percent of total first-time freshmen (3,179).
  • The total number of minority students enrolled for fall is 7,727,  or 32.36 percent, which is a 1.94 percent increase in the percentage of minorities of the total population.

The number of international students among MTSU’s new freshman class rose from 28 students last fall to 58 this fall for an increase of 107 percent, Sells said. The total number of MTSU international students at the undergraduate level increased by 21 percent from 291 international students enrolled in fall 2012 to 352 now enrolled for fall 2013.

— Andrew Oppmann (

MTSU student volunteers fill the Student Union ballroom to prepare "snack packs" with healthy food choices for local after-school programs Friday during the 2013 Freshman Day of Service.

Busy MTSU freshmen fill the Student Union ballroom to prepare “snack packs” with healthy food choices for local after-school programs during the 2013 Freshman Day of Service on Sept. 13. (MTSU file photo by Darby Campbell)