Date: September 19, 2006
At Andrews University, the familiar chill that's beginning to tinge the air is not the only sign that fall and winter are just around the corner. With sidewalks bustling with book-burdened students heading to class, parking lots filled with cars and freshly decorated dorm rooms, all signs point to the beginning of yet another school year.
School officially began on August 28, but the 290 first-time freshmen and 187 transfer students on campus this semester started their college career at Andrews a few days earlier with "All Fired Up!," a week-long orientation running August 20-27. This annual prep-week is the perfect opportunity for new freshmen and transfer students to get a taste of life at Andrews and Southwestern Michigan, while building friendships that often last a lifetime. The week kicked-off with First Stop, where students got the lowdown on college-life essentials like activating their ID cards, parking and financial aid. The week continued with three more days of "business," such as First Year testing, breakfasting with advisors, Student Success seminars, and introductions to the library.
On Wednesday night All Fired Up's family groups met for the first time and students were introduced to their veteran-student "parents." On Friday evening, new students had dinner at the homes of various Andrews University staff members who will serve as "coaches," or mentors, for the year ahead.
"Orientation programming offers students important "just in time" college success information, as well as giving them an opportunity to form a social support network," stated Steve Yeagley, assistant to the vice president for Student Services and orientation organizer. "Many students tell us that friends made in their orientation 'family group' remain friends throughout their college experience."
Whether competing in Beach Olympics at Warren Dunes, scoring at CM Radio's Extreme Bowling Party, or lending a hand with one of several community service projects, the group of new students who participated in the 2006 All Fired Up! Orientation Week were never at a loss for fun things to do.
Andrews University's annual mid-September enrollment report confirmed suspicions that the buzz on campus this year is indeed a little bit louder with a record enrollment of 3,195 students. Up 108 students from last year's 3,087, the last time the university came close to this high of a number was back in 1997 with an enrollment of 3,152 students.
The school with the highest jump in enrollment is the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary whose student population increased from 768 in 2005 to a total of 852 this fall. Other notable increases include the Division of Architecture, which went from 122 to 138 students and the School of Education's eight-student jump from 369 to 377.
"We're pleased to see a record enrollment at Andrews University this year with nearly 3,200 students," comments Stephen Payne, vice president for Enrollment Management. "It's also been exciting to see significant increases in new undergraduate students and also in some of our graduate areas, all changes that will help position Andrews University for long-term stability and success. Additional record levels of retention and graduation rates at the university also testify to the quality and commitment of the students who study here."
In the nine years Andrews has been formally tracking retention trends, the fall '06 reports show the best-ever graduation and retention rates. According to national standards used by Noel Levitz, consultant for enrollment management, a doctoral degree-granting institution with a "liberal/traditional" admission policy such as Andrews could predict a graduation rate of 48.5%. Andrews graduation rate now stands at 53.5%. Also according to Noel-Levitz information, Andrews could expect a retention rate (first-year students who persist into their second year) of about 72% and Andrews has steadily exceeded normative expectation with annual retention rate hovering around 77%. This year our retention of first-year students is 83.9%, which is a 6% increase over last year's rate.
"These retention numbers certainly indicate that our campus is delivering the educational product and service that parents and students expect at Andrews University," states Don May, assistant dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Director of Retention & General Education. "And the financial support our students receive for four years of their education through the Andrews Partnership Scholarship certainly also contributes. I am personally grateful to work on a campus that has set out to deliver this kind of satisfaction to our students."