Ohio University sets fall enrollment record for the second year in a row

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – For the second year in a row, Ohio University set a new fall enrollment record.

Ohio University's Cutler Hall on the first day of the semester.
Ohio University’s Cutler Hall on the first day of the semester. [Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource]

Ohio University saw 4,516 incoming students for fall 2023, exceeding its previous record of 4,441 set in fall 2022 and marking the first time an incoming class has exceeded 4,500 students. This figure includes 1,138 first-generation students, the most ever enrolled at the university.

Ohio University’s record-breaking fall enrollment comes at a time when average student enrollment is down nationwide, as higher education gradually recovers from the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a time when a lot of high school graduates were opting not to go to college even when they were qualified,” said Ohio University President Lori Stewart Gonzalez.

One reason for the overall decline in college enrollment is because families are concerned about soaring tuition. According to Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace Boeninger, the university seeks to counteract these trends by having recruiters emphasize the value of an Ohio University education in its pitch to families and potential students, as well as the resources Ohio University offers to aid students in graduating.

“There are lots of great colleges and universities, but we want to make sure that families understand what they can experience here, and we’ve invested quite a bit of time and attention to make sure that across all our platforms and across the institutions that we’re telling a story about the benefits of this experience,” said Boeninger.

The incoming class not only stands out in quantitative terms, but also qualitative ones, with the average incoming high school GPA a respectable 3.65.

“Our students come to us with high quality, which means they’re more likely to be successful as an OU student,” said Stewart Gonzalez. “So what this means for me is that we’re going to be educating the next generation of leaders in Ohio and in the region who can run for elected office and who can serve their communities in really important ways.”

Ohio University’s primary goals in the coming years are to maintain around a 4,000 student freshmen class and to continue improving its retention and graduation rates.

“We won’t bring in a record class year over year over year, but that isn’t the goal,” Boeninger said. “The goal is more about ensuring we have successful student outcomes, that we’re graduating students and putting them into the workforce and into graduate programs and that will continue to be our focus.”