Elmhurst College is experiencing strong enrollments again this year. The overall enrollment of about 3,500 students includes 1,263 new students, along with a higher retention rate of returning students than in previous years.
A variety of other initiatives, including a partnership with nearby DuPage High School District 88, two highly popular scholarship competitions, and an increase in the number of international students also contributed to the strong overall enrollment.
The current population includes new first-year students, incoming transfer students, new graduate students, new students attending the Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy, part-time students and all returning students.
Among the returning students, the retention rate—the percentage of first-year students who went on to their sophomore year at Elmhurst—rose this year to 82.5%, indicating a higher likelihood of graduation among those students. Another indicator that students will stay until graduation is the campus housing occupancy rate, which reached 98% this fall.
“The high retention and housing occupancy rates are powerful signs that more students are engaging in the life of the campus, both in and beyond the classroom,” said President Troy D. VanAken. “We’re very pleased to see this, and are continually working to improve the student experience.”
As part of a partnership between Elmhurst College and DuPage High School District 88, just over 30 students from Addison Trail and Willowbrook High Schools are enrolled in advanced mathematics classes at Elmhurst. They will receive credit for the courses at Elmhurst.
Elmhurst’s high enrollments this year mark the third straight year of similar growth at Elmhurst, and come at a time of continued financial strength and the launch of several initiatives aimed at enhancing student success.
This fall, the College launched two new academic programs, in environmental studies and digital media. Elmhurst also recently was awarded $2.75 million by the National Science Foundation to support students, especially from historically underrepresented groups, who are studying in STEM fields.
Two innovative scholarship competitions resonated with the students who participated in them. The American Dream Fellowship Competition, for first-generation college students, drew more than 150 entries in its first year in 2018. Of those participants who enrolled at Elmhurst, 91% went on to their sophomore year here this fall. The College’s first Niebuhr Service to Society Scholarship Competition, launched this past spring, also drew more than 150 entries. Seventy percent of the participants went on to enroll at Elmhurst.
The College’s ongoing efforts to become a more global and diverse campus also are reflected in the current class of new students. The class includes 22 new international students from several countries, including Vietnam, Greece, India, Australia and China. About 28% of the first-year class is Latinx; and more than half of the first-year class is made up of first-generation college students.
“Everyone on our campus, including our admission team, our outstanding faculty, our talented administrators, our grounds and facilities teams, is responsible for our success,” President VanAken said. “As we anticipate two historic moments for the College, including our 150th anniversary in 2021 and our name change to Elmhurst University next summer, it’s wonderful that we can look forward to both from a position of such optimism and strength.”